An America’s Got Talent contestant, who attends a Christian college, advanced to the next round, Tuesday, after changing songs mid-performance and getting a verbal scolding from judge Simon Cowell.
Joseph O'Brien, who studies worship and pastoral studies at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., walked to the piano and began singing REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” when Cowell raised his hand and told him to stop. O’Brien’s voice wasn’t as strong in the song as in his previous performance.
“You’ve got to stop this song. I’m sorry,” Cowell said.
O’Brien said his “heart was beating” and he “just wasn’t getting in the vibe.”
“I think you’re overthinking everything right now,” Cowell responded. “You have a great voice. I’m just frustrated because I didn’t like that song choice.”
O’Brien then offered: “Would it be OK if I did an original, or would that be a bad idea?”
Surprisingly, the judges allowed a re-do – a rarity on the talent show.
O’Brien crushed his original song, which was faith-based.
In the show’s final moments, Simon and the other judges allowed O’Brien to advance to the next round – the “live shows” -- in Hollywood. Fewer than half of the contestants Tuesday survived.
“You’ve got a lot of work to do, young man,” Cowell told him. “But you know what? You’re like a bull, and you’re a fighter. And that’s why you’ve got a shot.”
O’Brien’s Facebook page lists Romans 8:28-30 as a favorite passage. His father, Michael O’Brien, is a former member of the Christian group, NewSong.
Matthew Hall, dean of Boyce College, wrote on O’Brien’s Facebook fan page after the show: “The Boyce College community is cheering on our very own Joseph Brennan O'Brien after his superb performance tonight on America's Got Talent. Great job, Joseph!”
Boyce is a school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust
Publication Date: July 25, 2018
Photo Courtesy: YouTube/America's Got Talent, screen capture
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.