“I have to be honest that that song didn’t do it for me personally,” Mandel told the 15-year-old country singer after hearing one of her original songs during the quarterfinals.
But Tuesday night was a different story.
Prior to singing in the semifinals, Kenadi told the Deseret News: “I know what kind of songs Howie likes, and I’ve got things up my sleeve.”
Rather than showcasing an original song, the singer from Logan sat at a piano and sang Thomas Rhett’s “Be a Light” for the semifinals. And Mandel loved it.
“For me, this performance was a huge step up, it really was,” he said. “And I think strategically picking a song that is already a great song, and you adding yourself to it. You were beautiful, you sounded beautiful, and you just made America’s job a little tougher.”
“AGT” judge Sofia Vergara also said she liked Kenadi’s performance better this time around, telling the young singer that she sang “like a confident pop star.”
While Heidi Klum enjoyed Kenadi’s act, the judge noted there’s a lot of young singers in this year’s competition — Tuesday night’s semifinal episode alone had four singers. Only five acts from the night will move on to the show’s final round.
“You just gave such a stellar performance just now. I love you, I think you’re fantastic,” Klum said. “I wish you good luck.”
In a recent interview with the Deseret News, Kenadi said her family has sacrificed a lot for her to be on the “AGT” stage. The singer is the only one in her immediate family who doesn’t have the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, and her family has worked hard to find ways for Kenadi to get to auditions and vocal lessons.
Kenadi said her dad, a former Paralympic athlete, has put his own dreams on hold for her.
“Her happiness means the world to me. Being with Kenadi here at ‘AGT’ is a dream come true as a parent,” Kenadi’s dad, Chris Dodds, said with emotion in a clip that aired before his daughter’s performance Tuesday night.
“I’m really grateful Kenadi loves to sing, because even though I can’t see her, I can always feel her heart,” he continued. “To me music paints a picture inside my head, and no one has been able to paint such beautiful pictures like Kenadi. I’m so incredibly proud of her.”
On Wednesday night, Kenadi will find out if she got enough votes to make it through to the final round of “AGT” that airs next week.
“Being a small-town girl from Utah, it’s not something most people my age dream about,” she told “AGT” host Terry Crews after her performance. “So the fact that I’m here is just amazing and a blessing in itself.”