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How Lily Meola Changed Heidi Klum's Mind About AGT Golden Buzzers This Season

"I want to push for variety Acts. And so I had already my mind set....but then Lily came onto the stage," the Judge told NBC Insider.

By McKenzie Jean-Philippe

A third singing Act has earned a Season 17 Golden Buzzer on America's Got Talent

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Watch the Season 19 premiere of America’s Got Talent Tuesday, May 28 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

Lily Meola's original song, "Daydream," moved both the Judges and fans when she explained the personal meaning behind the track. Meola said that the performance made her feel closer to her late mother, with whom she shared a love of music.

"I wrote it at a time in my life when things were really beautiful, and I was essentially living my daydream. I had a major label record deal, I had a publishing deal, I had butterflies I was hatching," she said. "It was magical. It was just so beautiful, and I wanted other people to be able to feel that, and so that's where it originated. And then my life flipped upside down and my mom was diagnosed with cancer and I became her full-time caretaker. I lost my record deal during that, but I think it maybe was a bit of a blessing because it gave me some extra time to really be there for her."

AGT fans have long had mixed opinions about musical Acts earning Golden Buzzers, wishing to see a more diverse array of Acts receive the honor. This is a fact that Judge Heidi Klum keeps in mind throughout Auditions. The model explained to NBC Insider it contributed to her picking quick change Artist Léa Kyle for her Golden Buzzer last year.

Klum went into Season 17 with the same goal of highlighting a unique talent—but that all went out the window when she saw Meola.

Agt Heidi Lily Terry

"I feel like a good singer always goes far no matter what, and they don’t really need to have my push in order for them to be seen," she said. "So I go into the season like I did last season where I’m like: This is a show about variety, and I want to push for variety Acts. And so I had already my mind set...but then Lily came onto the stage, and she was talking about losing her mother, and I could see how she was struggling with that, and I don’t know. I have four kids and immediately my heart was melting for this girl who was still a young woman struggling with that."

As we saw during the June 28th show, a tearful Klum enthusiastically awarded Meola the fifth Golden Buzzer of the season and automatically advanced her to the Live Shows.

"She has a beautiful voice, but I kind of wanted to be the person who shines my light on her for her to get that extra push to be seen," she said. "I just couldn’t help it. Sometimes, your feelings in your stomach take over of what you just kinda wanted to do, and I couldn’t be happier."

But when it comes down to it, Klum knows that the fans have the last say in who wins the $1 million grand prize.

"I hope now that America will fall in love with her, because, ultimately, America is the Judge," she said. "We’re just here to push people forward who we believe have a shot at this, and then it’s really up to America." 

 America's Got Talent Season 17 airs every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.