Instead, the country singer auditioned for “AGT” from his truck. He was parked outside his home in Cedar City. His dog, Syd, sat by his side.
That setup is an adjustment “AGT” made during the coronavirus pandemic, which caused shows nationwide to shut down in March. When “AGT” producers reopened the audition round, the show went remote and turned to online submissions, according to People magazine.
And in this unprecedented territory, Petersen made the cut.
In an episode that unfolded last Tuesday, the four “AGT” judges watched the singer from the comfort of their own homes, although it was Syd who really seemed to have their attention — Simon Cowell even mistakenly called Petersen by his dog’s name, saying, “What’s your full-time job, Syd?”
“She’s a good companion, that’s what she does for a living,” Petersen said. “She’s my best friend. She can sing a little bit, but she has a hard time talking.”
Sitting on a white couch with his own dogs, Squiddly and Daisy, Cowell realized his error and began to laugh before correcting himself.
Petersen then told the judges he’s a graphic designer who does music on the side. His big dream, though, is to start a horse therapy program for people with disabilities.
“Well you seem like a very nice person,” Cowell said. “She’s adorable.”
And then it was Petersen’s big moment.
In his truck, he turned on Chris LeDoux’s “Look at You Girl” and began to sing. And Syd started howling right along with him.
The pair sang together for one minute. During the unexpected duet, “AGT” judge Sofia Vergara screamed. Host Terry Crews laughed and clapped. Cowell kissed his dog, Squiddly.
“Brilliant,” Cowell said after the performance. “You’ve got a good voice. Your dog actually was singing along with you.”
“Yeah, she does pretty good,” Petersen said.
“I mean, that’s unbelievable,” Cowell responded. “And Squiddly was tapping her head as it went along. So we both actually loved it. Genius.”
Vergara called Peterson’s performance “heartwarming,” and Heidi Klum lamented the fact that there wasn’t a live audience to enjoy the moment.
“The connection that you guys have, I really think that America would fall in love with you guys,” she said. “I wish they were with us right now, all the fans, because I know they would be on their feet right now all clapping for you and rooting for you.”
“Do you think the dog is actually singing along with him or telling him to stop?” Howie Mandel joked. “I think you’re exactly what the world needs right now. You put a smile on my face and warmth in our hearts.”
All four judges gave Petersen a “yes,” sending him on to the next round of the competition that airs July 28.
According to his bio, Petersen’s music career had a late start. His fear of singing in front of others kept him from getting on stage. He didn’t sing in public until he was in college, but Petersen would often write songs while driving or riding horses.
A significant turning point for the budding singer came a few years ago when country star Collin Raye heard some of his songs, according to Petersen’s bio. Raye asked Petersen to be his opening act, and the singer finally faced his fear.
Petersen is the second country singer from Utah to be featured on this season of “AGT.” Earlier this season, 15-year-old Kenadi Dodds wowed judges with her original country song, “One Way Ticket to Tennessee.”
A “Judge Cuts” episode will air on July 28, and live shows are expected to begin Aug. 11, the Deseret News previously reported.