Shaheen Jafargholi may have lost out to Susan Boyle and others on Britain’s Got Talent, but he is set for the performance of a lifetime Tuesday when he appears at Michael Jackson‘s memorial.
Jafargholi, 12, was a surprise choice to join the lineup of singers like Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Usher on stage at Los Angeles’s Staples Center.
The schoolboy from Swansea, Wales, made his name singing Jackson songs on BGT, and was even spotted by the late superstar on YouTube. Jafargholi would have met his hero during Jackson’s concert series in London, an insider tells PEOPLE.
Now, he can only pay his respects in the best way possible.
Jafargholi flew out from London Monday and, in a statement released to PEOPLE, says, “Michael was a huge inspiration to me and I am honored and privileged to have been invited to perform.”
An insider adds, “He is nervous but totally honored to be performing. Michael has been a massive influence on Shaheen’s singing all his life.”
Jafargholi embraced Jackson’s songs throughout his rise on BGT as well as at tour stops throughout the U.K. and Ireland. Before appearing on the show, he played a young Jackson on the Thriller Live stage show and then sang a Jackson 5 hit, “Who’s Loving You,” at his first audition. He reprised the performance on the BGT finale in May.
On the recent tour stops, Jafargholi has also showcased his version of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
The youngster emerged as a possible threat to Boyle after he captured viewers’ hearts in the audition that followed the Scottish sensation. — Simon Perry