"I was absolutely mesmerized. ... She's an amazing person with an incredible talent and she's truly an inspiration," Simon Cowell tells PEOPLE about his Golden Buzzer-winning act Nightbirde

By Karen Mizoguchi
June 08, 2021 10:00 PM

Simon Cowell was overcome with emotion on America's Got Talent after giving the Golden Buzzer to a deserving act.

On Tuesday, Cowell, 61, pushed the coveted button for Jane, the Zanesville, Ohio, native who performs under the name Nightbirde. For her audition, the singer, 30, gave a standout performance with her original song "It's OK," which is about the past year in her life amid her fight with cancer.

"Last time I checked, I had some cancer in my lungs, spine and my liver," she told judges Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel. "It's important that everyone knows I'm so much more than the bad things that happened to me."

As Cowell tells PEOPLE about the moment he knew Nightbirde was his Golden Buzzer-winning contestant, the executive producer also recalls feeling emotional after learning about her story.

"I pushed my Golden Buzzer for Nightbirde because everything about her audition was really special. Her voice was absolutely stunning and performing her original song 'It's OK' after she told us what she was going through with her cancer, it really moved me. This was a very, very special moment," he says.

America's Got Talent
Credit: Art Streiber/NBC

"I was absolutely mesmerized. Every year we meet the most extraordinary people on this show. She's an amazing person with an incredible talent and she's truly an inspiration," Cowell continues.

And his fellow judges couldn't agree more.

America's Got Talent
| Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

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America's Got Talent
| Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

"When singers come on, I think about authenticity. When you feel it, it moves you. That felt like the most authentic thing I have heard this season," Mandel, 65, told Nightbirde after her audition.

"I totally agree with what Howie said about authenticity. There was something about that song after the way you, almost, casually told us what you're going through," Cowell said as Vergara, 48, called Nightbirde's performance "powerful [and] heartfelt" and Klum, 48, praised her voice as "so beautiful to listen to."

After the golden confetti rained down and Nightbirde celebrated with Cowell onstage, she revealed, "I have a two percent chance of survival but two percent is not zero percent. Two percent is something and I wish people knew how amazing it is."

America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.