NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider AGT Franchise

You Won't Believe 14-Year-Old Reid Wilson's Soulful Voice Belting "You Don't Own Me"

 A nervous 14-year-old boy from Alabama won the Judges over with a cover of a classic anthem for women's rights.

By Jax Miller

A 14-year-old boy from Alabama had America’s Got Talent Judges “bowled over” when he took the mic and delivered a timeless 1960’s classic tune.

How to Watch

Watch America’s Got Talent Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

Reid Wilson came with his sweet southern manners when first meeting AGT Host Terry Crews backstage. The unassuming teen, sporting a turtleneck sweater and braces, explained that while he had only sung for small family gatherings, he had yet to bring his musical abilities to the big stage.

“When I was little, I would just run around the house screaming at the top of my lungs,” he told producers. “I was not good at all. I just kind of started teaching myself from there.”

RELATED: Comedian Erica Rhodes Had Sofia Vergara Cracking Up in Her AGT Audition

As he later told Judge Simon Cowell, Wilson had only grown serious about singing in the past year. He said it was “definitely” his dream to become AGT’s “next superstar” while hopefully freeing himself of the stigmas of being a middle child at home, which made him feel a little “forgotten.”

“I’m definitely nervous,” said Wilson backstage, “but I’m going to put my all into those two minutes to sing my heart out and just try not to miss a note.”

Wilson was true to his word, and because of it, he left with Judge Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer.

What song did Reid Wilson sing?

Reid Wilson performs on stage on America's Got Talent Episode 1906

Wilson had Judges eating out of the palm of his hand when belting out the 1963 Lesley Gore classic, “You Don’t Own Me.”  With lyrics such as "You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys. You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys," the chart-topping tune became an anthem in women’s rights and feminism by challenging contemporaneous beliefs that men could have possession over their female partners.

Gore, already famous for her hit song “It’s My Party,” recorded “You Don’t Own Me” when she was only 17 years old before it was released as a single and featured on Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts.

Gore later referred to it as her "signature song,” according to BBC.

“After some 40 years, I still close my show with that song because I can’t find anything stronger, to be honest with you,” said Gore. “It’s a song that kind of grows every time you do it.”

The hit was certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum across the globe. It has since been covered by many musical greats, including Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Aguilera, Joan Jett, and Dusty Springfield. For the 1996 film The First Wives Club, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn also famously covered the song.

In 2014, Gore helped a handful of celebs, such as Lena Dunham and Natasha Lyonne, lip-sync “You Don’t Own Me” for a P.S.A. encouraging women to vote in the midterm elections to protect women’s rights over their bodies, as reported by Entertainment Weekly.

Gore died of lung cancer the following year.

Reid's brother, Ryley Wilson, competed on The Voice

Reid isn't the only singer in his family who has graced the stage of an NBC competition show. His brother, Ryley got four chair turns on Season 23 of The Voice when he was just 15. In the video above, you can see Reid right there on the sidelines enthusiastically cheering his big brother on. Ryley ended up on Coach Niall Horan's team and ended up touring with him after the show. 

Ultimately he made it into the top eight but didn't secure enough votes to make it to the finals.

Why did Howie Mandel give his Golden Buzzer?

Reid Wilson, Terry Crews and Howie Mandel after the golden buzzer moment on AGT Episode 1906

Mandel said he was “bowled over” because he was so “surprised” by Wilson’s rendition, one filled with impressive vibrato and a mix of husky low notes and hair-raising high notes.

Cowell also said he “wasn’t expecting that” from a 14-year-old boy from Alabama.

During the performance, Cowell said he closed his eyes and opened them, only to be met by a “sweet little kid” who admitted he was inspired by the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.  

“That was a surprise, and you know what? That stage is where dreams come true,” Mandel told Wilson. “Do you believe in dreams?”

Wilson said he had, to which Mandel rose from his chair and walked toward the Golden Buzzer.

“Well, one is about to come to you,” Mandel proudly proclaimed.

Wilson stood stunned when showered in gold confetti and began crying as his mother, Crews, and Mandel met him onstage. Wilson said he was a bit “starstruck” by the company, but he thanked the Judges, “especially Howie,” for helping make his dreams come true.

"Why did I do it? I did it because everything, the sound and who you are, is nothing close to anything I was expecting," Mandel told the teen. "You're a big talent. Aretha was in the room."

Watch all-new episodes of America’s Got Talent, airing Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and Peacock.