Jane Marczewski, an inspiring singer-songwriter who brought rare emotion out of “America’s Got Talent” judge Simon Cowell, has announced she is leaving the competition.
On Monday, the 31-year-old singer — who goes by the stage name Nightbirde — said in a post on social media that her cancer diagnosis “has taken a turn for the worse” since her audition aired in June.
“The fight with cancer is demanding all of my energy and attention,” the singer from Zanesville, Ohio, wrote. “I am so sad to announce that I won’t be able to continue forward on this season of ‘AGT.’ Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it — but we knew that already. Thank you for all your support, it means the world to me. Stay with me, I’ll be better soon. I’m planning my future, not my legacy. Pretty beat up, but I’ve still got dreams.”
That optimism, combined with her musical talent, is what initially moved all of the “AGT” judges during an audition that has since been viewed more than 30 million times on YouTube. At the time of the audition, Nightbirde had a 2% chance of survival, with cancer detected in her lungs, spine and liver.
“Two percent is not 0%,” she said during her audition clip. “Two percent is something, and I wish people knew how amazing it is.”
Before singing her original song “It’s OK,” which chronicles the past year of her life, Nightbirde told “AGT” judges that “it’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me.”
There was a three-second pause after Nightbirde finished performing her vulnerable song. Taken aback by the singer — her story, her message and her optimism — Cowell uttered a simple “wow” before the audience and judges erupted in applause. “AGT” judge Howie Mandel called it “the most authentic thing” he’d heard all season.
Cowell was visibly emotional as he praised Nightbirde and had to stop talking to regain his composure.
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy,” Nightbirde told the judges.
Cowell then gave Nightbirde the coveted golden buzzer, securing the singer’s place in the live shows that begin Aug. 10. He hugged the singer as gold confetti rained down upon her and said, “Everything about that was really special.”
Although Nightbirde is no longer moving forward in the competition, she said getting to share her story on the show was “an honor and a dream come true.”
“My point of view this summer has been astounding,” she wrote in her social media post. “What a miracle that the pain I’ve walked through can be reworked into beauty that makes people all over the world open their eyes wider.”
Note: “AGT” will not air on Aug. 3 due to Olympics coverage on NBC. The live quarterfinals will begin on Aug 10.