Brandon Leake has consistently wowed the crowd and judges on the 15th season of “America’s Got Talent.” From the Golden Buzzer to the final round, his presence has been incredibly timely and relevant.
His empathetic lines were exactly what the world needed. He has a way of putting a variety of emotions into an even more emotional form that hits the listener in a way that feels simultaneously fresh and oh-so familiar.
Leake, the first spoken-word poet to ever compete on the show, was elated to make it into the top two, counting it a win for his group of often-overlooked poets.
“This is bigger than just me; this is a huge win for the spoken-word community,” he said, according to Yahoo. “For an art form that has not been in the mainstream ever to have a chance to win America’s Got Talent is bigger than anything.”
And to prove that he was what the people wanted, Leake was named the winner of season 15 on Wednesday.
Leake said he didn’t necessarily expect to win — but when he saw the reaction to his final poem, he had hope.
“So, the [first] time I felt like I had an honest shot at winning was the moment I saw the judges stand up and give me a round of applause after my final piece for my daughter,” he told USA Today. “At the same time, I told myself, ‘Even if you don’t [win], of course you did.'”
“It just took me back to the beginning of my spoken-word journey. Spoken word never gets top billing. We were always the Tuesday, Thursday act, because music and comedy come Friday and Saturday.”
“The beginning of my poetic journey started with me performing in front of four or five people and trying to captivate their time,” he recalled, saying it was similar to performing without the “AGT” audience.
The 27-year-old from Stockton, California, had a strategy that ended up paying off big-time for him: “You just have to strategically place your poems,” he said.
“That way, you get to the end of the show and you have a chance to win with your best poem.”
The judges had nothing but praise for the well-worded truth-speaker.
“Brandon took us through the journey of humanity,” said judge Howie Mandel, who originally awarded Leake the Golden Buzzer. “And this is what’s missing right now: understanding, humanity and justice.”
“This has been a hard time for all of us, but I thought that the win and the vote for him has given me and the world hope. I’m so thrilled America made this vote and listened to their hearts and their minds, especially on a day like today with what’s going on in the world. I hope that he is the light.”
Judge Heidi Klum is still surprised that a poet, especially a spoken-word poet, won the entire season. She said it “is something you would not have thought of. [Then] someone like him just walks in and pulls the rug out from under your feet.”
“He’s my husband’s favorite,” she added.
“When I go home, usually we watch the show together in bed, and my husband was like, ‘It’s almost like music the way he says it, the way he enunciates certain words and how he speaks in that rhythm.'”
After the win was revealed, Leake posted a short — but fitting — message on his Facebook page: “WE DID IT!!!!”
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