America's Got Talent Judges Wowed By Oxford High School Shooting Survivor's Audition

America's Got Talent Judges Wowed By Oxford High School Shooting Survivor's Audition

Updated on July 27, 2022 17:11 PM by Emma Alice

The judges have seen plenty of acts over the years, but one performance from Tuesday's episode has left a permanent impression on Simon Cowell. That performance came from Ava Swiss, an 18-year-old singer who survived a school shooting in Oxford, Michigan.

Before singing "Remember" by Lauren Daigle, Swiss revealed that she was a survivor of the mass shooting that unfolded in November 2021, which left four of her fellow students dead and seven injured, including a teacher.

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Oxford High School Shooting Survivor received a standing ovation from the judges:

Simon Cowell asked how she's been coping since the tragedy; Swiss replied, "It's been hard. I remember my brother and me talking to each other and saying, 'There's no way we're ever stepping foot back in the school.' But we've been in person in the school for about two months now, so things are getting better."

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After delivering powerful performance, Swiss received a standing ovation from the judges and four unanimous yeses to continue to the next round.

Howie Mandel said, "In life, it's tough to show up, especially after going through incredible trauma," adding, "The fact that you can break through that, and shine you way you did today, is so inspirational for every human being." Heidi Klum called Swiss "so special," while fellow judge Sofía Vergara noted how Swiss "took my breath away" and "gave me goosebumps."

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Ava Swiss recalls the tragic incident:

Cowell added, "I think you are gutsy. For me, this is one of those auditions I'll never forget. I really have so much respect for you, and on top of that, you've got a great voice. You're really somebody who I'm so happy to have met." After her emotional audition, Swiss talks about a tragic moment that she still feels "surreal."

She says, "I remember being on the stage and thinking, 'Wow, you're really here. It's really happening.' I mean, all my life, all my childhood I watched the show and I always kind of dreamed that I would be able to be on that stage one day."

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An inspiring reason!

She continued, "So when I was there, and then on top of it, getting all of the positive feedback, I felt very, very proud of myself... It was an overwhelming amount of happiness." When asked why she wanted to audition, Swiss replied that she was inspired by her hometown's strength and unity and tried to represent them in a positive light.

Swiss explains, "After some time of coping and thinking and everything, I felt like I should use it as an opportunity to try to show more people than I ever imagined who Oxford really is."

She added, "We're not just a town with a tragedy. I wanted to show them what our community is really like, and most importantly, how a community can come together and how they have proved that things do get better with hope, Love, and support."

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Of the four victims who lost their lives that day, Swiss says she was friendly with one: 17-year-old Justin Shilling. Though they had distanced in the last two years of his life, partly due to remote learning amid the COVID pandemic, Swiss believes her late friend would've been proud of her AGT audition.

Swiss recalls, "Freshman year, we had a huge crush on each other all year," adding, "He was just one of those people where even if we kind of faded over time, he would always come back around and he'd be the type to come back and say, 'Hey, congratulations. I'm so proud of you. This is amazing.' He'd be the one to reach out no matter how much time has gone by."

Swiss strong message to viewers, 'Love is stronger than hate:

As she moves forward on the show, Swiss hopes that she can send an important message to viewers at home. She says, "Love is stronger than hate. Lots of people still can't fully heal, especially the four families. It's obviously a lot harder for them. But with time, things do get better with hope and with support and with Love from other people."

She adds, "The weeks after everything had happened, the number of donations that [we received], even big companies like Chick-fil-A and Olive Garden were donating pounds and pounds of food to us."

Swiss continues, "It was the simplest things like that that really showed us ... I mean, that's what got us through, I think, is the love and support." While she prepares for the next round of the competition, Swiss says she's most excited to keep singing and connect with others.

Swiss said, "I'm just hoping that I can reach even more people and share my message and share my story and my voice."

She continued, "One of my favorite parts of this whole experience, even when I went to LA back in April, I loved all the new people I got to meet. Because again, even after everything on November 30th, I met some really amazing people and I had some really amazing people reach out to me and it just shows how much kindness there is in the world."

She added, "So I'd love being able to meet some more people that are like me, and even people that share a passion for singing, it's very cool. I've performed a lot, but not ever this big. It's very surreal."

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