AGT's Simon Cowell Pays Tribute To Nightbirde And Her Brave Battle With Cancer As The Show Looks Back At Favorite Golden Buzzer Moments

America’s Got Talent awards a select few performers each season with golden buzzers to advance them in competition, and judge Simon Cowell’s selection in Season 16 packed a punch both with her incredible song and powerful story. Singer Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski was a favorite to potentially even win the season after just one performance, but sadly had to withdraw from competition due to her battle with cancer. She passed away in February, and now Cowell has taken the opportunity during Season 17 to pay tribute to her. 

AGT took a break from the auditions round of Season 17 in the latest episode, and instead focused on Simon Cowell’s picks for the best golden buzzers in the history of the show. He made special mention of Nightbirde, and didn’t stop paying tribute to her with the show. He took to Instagram to praise her bravery as he looked back on the night in 2021 when he hit the buzzer for her, posting:

Simon Cowell selected a photo from the moment in Season 16 right after he hit the golden buzzer for Nightbirde and then walked up onto the AGT stage to give her a hug. Her performance had emotionally impacted all of the judges, but Cowell gave a bit of a scare when he announced that he was not going to give her a “yes” to move forward. Fortunately, it was because he intended to give her one of AGT’s highest honors with a golden buzzer. 

Tragically, less than two months after she was advanced to the live shows by Simon Cowell, Nightbirde had to pull out of Season 16. Although she said that performing on AGT was “an honor” and “a dream come true,” her health had taken a turn for the worse, and she wouldn’t be able to return for another performance. 

A little over a month later, Simon Cowell shared that he spoke with Nightbirde after the first half of the Season 15 finale, and said that he believed she would have won the whole competition if she’d been able to return. He also shared that they made the decision for her not to move forward because of the stress it would have caused on her health. 

Then, in February of 2022, the talented singer and America’s Got Talent standout passed away, after a long battle with cancer that had begun back in 2017. Following her death, Cowell spoke out and praised her as an “extraordinary person” who made “a huge impact” on both AGT and the world. He sent his love to her family, with the message of “Rest in peace” to the woman who had so impressed him with his talent. His fellow AGT judges and host Terry Crews also paid tribute to her at the time. 

With all five Season 17 golden buzzers already awarded and Simon Cowell looking back at those who stood out in the history of the show, it’s only fitting that he took the opportunity to showcase her yet again. In case you missed her original appearance on AGT (or just want to experience it again), take a look at her performance of her original song “It’s Okay” on the AGT stage:

While the “Simon’s Favorite Golden Buzzers” episode was a nice interlude in the auditions to look back at AGT days gone by, the show will soon be back to business as usual. The next new auditions episode of America’s Got Talent airs on Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You can catch up on Season 17 so far streaming with a Peacock subscription, and find some more viewing options with our 2022 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).