CHARLOTTE – Ray Singleton won over “America's Got Talent” judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara with his personal story and audition during a taped episode of the NBC show that aired July 13.
Singleton nailed a rendition of Andy Grammer's “I Am Yours” to advance deeper in the TV competition toward a $1 million prize and starring role at Luxor Las Vegas.
The 31-year-old Charlotte singer, who has performed at venues like Tap & Vine in Indian Trail and the Matthews Wine Cellar, went viral last year after serenading his wife, Roslyn, before she underwent brain cancer surgery.
The couple connected with so many people, prompting an appearance on “The Ellen Show” last year, in which they received $25,000 from sponsors. Singleton also performed the National Anthem at the Oct. 4 Carolina Panthers game.
Singleton told the Weekly that despite performing music his entire life, he still gets nervous on stage. He is inspired by a Jerry Seinfeld quote about nerves before a performance in that he tries to get the butterflies to fly in formation.
The “America's Got Talent” performance was the biggest of his career. He described it as an “out-of-body experience.”
The performance was also emotional as he told judges about Roslyn's battle with brain cancer. She found out after their one-year wedding anniversary about the cancer. He wiped away tears as he told judges that she was cancer-free.
The emotional weight of the performance didn't deter Singleton during the audition. He sang and played on a keyboard a song he dedicated to his wife that “is a story of everything she is to me and everything I want to be to her.”
After the performance, Roslyn joined her husband on stage where they cried in each other's arms.
“He's been practicing every day and I've never heard him sing so good,” she told judges.
The judges were encouraging with their feedback. Even Cowell, who has a reputation for ripping talent to shreds, said Singleton had a fantastic voice.
“We felt the love, we felt the commitment, we felt your warmth and we felt your heart,” Mandel told the couple. “That's what this show is all about.”
After watching his performance on the show for the first time, Singleton told followers on Instagram (@willie_qool) “I haven't been able to put words to this feeling taking over my body right now so I'll simply say … THANK YOU!”
Want to see him perform?
Ray Singleton is scheduled to perform locally from 8 to 11 p.m. July 17 at Tap & Vine, 6443 Old Monroe Road, Indian Trail. He'll also open for Anthony Hamilton at Novant Health's Welcome Back Fest at 12:30 p.m. July 24 in Uptown Charlotte. The couple also has a clothing line, Eleven-Oh-Four,” to help pay for Roslyn's medical expenses at www.11oh4.com.