Entertainment

Back again! Young Raleigh violinist wows AGT audience with 'Don't You Worry Child'

Posted August 20, 2019 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2019 11:04 a.m. EDT

— Earlier this year, a generous gift helped Tyler Butler-Figueroa, a young violinist, ace his America's Got Talent audition. On Tuesday, the Raleigh boy returned to the stage, more confident than ever.

The crowd erupted following the 11-year-old's performance of "Don't You Worry Child," which included dancing, flourished notes and background vocals.

Tyler took to Twitter after the show, thanking fans for their support and asking them to vote on the America's Got Talent app and online.

The fans responded!

"Simon, please take care of this amazing talent. I will buy his first album," tweeted one user.

"Great song, great outfit, great energy, great performance. Everything you do is just great. Thank you so much for being a positive role model for the rest of us," another user tweeted.

America's Got Talent airs again on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on WRAL, when seven acts from Tuesday's show will move on to the semifinals round of competition on Aug. 27, giving viewers another chance to vote.

Tyler's story

When musicians first start out, they usually aren't playing top-of-the line instruments. But that didn't stop Tyler from turning heads as he played on the streets of downtown Raleigh.

Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4. Kids in elementary school would bully him, saying he was contagious, he said. At age 7, Tyler started playing a violin his mom purchased at a flea market as an escape. Soon, he was wowing people on Davie Street, in front of the Red Hat building.

Tyler's mother, Kisua Butler-Figueroa, would talk to passersby, sharing in the amazement of his talent. "I said, 'Can you believe he's playing on a violin that was like $20 or $30?'" said Kisua.

Tyler and Kisua, a single mother, worked together to raise $2,000 to get Tyler to his June 11 America's Got Talent audition.

His first big moment came when Tyler played “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. The crowd cheered as he danced to the music while playing.

His 80-second performance earned a standing ovation from all four judges: Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel.

“You are an extraordinary young man,” Cowell said after his performance.

Cowell then reached to the center of the judges’ panel and pressed the golden buzzer, which automatically sends contestants to the live shows in Hollywood.

Tyler and his mother began crying as golden confetti fell, and the audience got on its feet for another standing ovation.

“You enjoy every moment of this,” Cowell said to Tyler.

Barbara Goodmon, President of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, was a fan of Tyler's well before he became a star on America's Got Talent. She knew the foundation could help get him a new violin.

"I just thought, is this for real? And so it was real," Goodmon said. "I said, well, you know, if he's going on to the next stage, maybe he needs a violin. Sometimes something like that just hits you and you need to do something.

The foundation paid for Tyler to have a brand new, Stentor size 3/4 violin, a better fit for his size. It's the one he was played on stage on June 11, and Goodmon was watching.

"It was like golly ... you know this is a little boy who used to be really sick, who was bullied, who played a flea market violin on the streets trying to make money to go to be on America's got Talent and look at him ... he's up on the stage and it's just natural for him," Goodmon said. "And you just wish the best for him because he is an example of all the things that he has overcome."

For Tuesday night's performance, Tyler used a new violin he purchased with his earnings from street performing.