Black Excellence: The First Poet To Win America’s Got Talent With Spoken Word

by Duke Magazine

One of the America’s biggest reality show, America’s Got Talent, which has been running for 15 seasons, but has never had a spoken word artiste walked on its stage. The first time one does, he goes on to wow the audiences to become the first-ever spoken word artiste to walk away with the $1million winning prize and headliner act for an “AGT” show in Las Vegas, United States. Brandon Leake admits he did not think he will become a winner when he auditioned for the show.

He however developed a plan early in the show and poured his heart out with every performance strategically placed to win over the judges and audience. He says that plan came with ease because it was developed over the years performing in poetry slams.

According to USA Today, it was when he got a standing ovation from the judges after one performance that the thought of winning crossed his mind. It was a piece for his six-month-old daughter whom he had only seen for the first time in months due to the COVID-19 safety protocols and being on the show. 

“So, the (first) time I felt like I had an honest shot at winning was the moment I saw the judges stand up and give me a round of applause after my final piece for my daughter. At the same time, I told myself, ‘Even if you don’t (win), of course you did.’”

Leake was the Golden Buzzer act for Howie Mandel earlier in the show sending him straight into the live shows. His enunciation of words, flow and rhythm make it soothing to listen to him. The message behind his words is what the world needs today, according to Mandel.

“Brandon took us through the journey of humanity. And this is what’s missing right now: understanding, humanity, and justice,” Mandel says. 

“This has been a hard time for all of us, but I thought that the win and the vote for him has given me and the world hope. I’m so thrilled America made this vote and listened to their hearts and their minds, especially on a day like today with what’s going on in the world. I hope that he is the light.”

The Stockton, California native’s chilling performances on Black Lives Matter will always be remembered.

“My people are hurting. I think the idea of Black Lives Matter being a political statement is an intriguing word, because we never tried to assert the idea that we’re more important than any other race.

“All we try to assert is the historical fact that there has been disenfranchisement of African Americans in this country since its inception and it’s continued and it’s part of it’s legacy and we want to help rewrite that,” he says.

Last Wednesday, the 27-year-old was astonished with his win. “A young kid from Southside Stockton, a poet, came and won ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Wild!” He also added that this win is for one of the most underrated art forms in mainstream media.

“This is a huge win for the spoken-word community. For an art form that has not been on the mainstream ever to have a chance to win ‘America’s Got Talent’ is bigger than anything,” he was quoted by CNN.

The acts to come in second place were the singing duo Broken Roots while singer Christina Rae went home with the third spot.

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