A fisherman and courier by day and karaoke master by night, Roland Abante, who is from the Philippines, earned a standing ovation and the coveted four ‘yes’ votes at his audition for America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night.
He told the judges, speaking through an interpreter, that he caught fish in the morning and drove passengers and deliveries on his motorbike throughout the workday. Singing is a hobby he indulged in at karaoke in his neighborhood, Abante said.
When judge Heidi Klum asked Abante why he decided to compete on the show’s 18th season, he turned around, collecting his emotions. He explained that being on the show was his biggest dream, and Klum came up to the stage to embrace Abante.
The singer wowed the audience with his rendition of “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
Abante’s full-throated performance of the song at Tuesday’s audition earned a standing ovation from the audience and a resounding four ‘yes’ votes from the judges. Tears flowed from his eyes as he finished the song.
“I have a feeling you’re going to have to stop fishing. This is where you needed to be,” judge Sofia Vergara told Abante.
Judge Simon Cowell praised Abante’s performance, remarking that he liked the singer a lot: “You were so nervous, I genuinely thought, for one moment, that you weren’t going to be able to do this. And then, that happened.”
Before Howie Mandel could deliver his praise of the singer, Abante — unable to contain his excitement — exclaimed that Cowell is his favorite judge of all time. Cowell invited him down the stage for a hug, telling him, “You’re amazing.”
Abante, having received four ‘yes’ votes, will move onto the next round of AGT.
The video of his audition on YouTube, posted Wednesday, has since garnered almost four million views in just two days.
America’s Got Talent and NBC News share the same parent company.