Last Monday was the fifth episode of the special series America’s Got Talent: The Champions. The contest consists of 60 outstanding acts from global branches of the Got Talent brand. Twelve of those acts competed on Monday, one of which being Ukrainian sand artist and winner of the first season of Ukraine’s Got Talent, Kseniya Simonova.
From Ukraine’s Got Talent to Eurovision
Simonova’s sand art went viral in 2009 when her semifinal performance, called “You Are Always Nearby,” received millions of views in under a day. She would go on to win first prize in the competition and 100,000 euro. Since her victory, she has performed hundreds of sand stories across the world, many of which for heads of state like Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and members of the British Royal Family.
Eurovision fans are likely most familiar with her performance called “Share Your Heart,” which she performed at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf as the backdrop for the song “Angel” by Mika Newton. Though “Angel” would fall short of winning, placing fourth in the Grand Final, Simonova’s art left an impression on viewers. It also inspired a comical rendition of the song that host Ange Engelke performed during the stand-in rehearsal.
Simonova wows at AGT: The Champions
On AGT: The Champions, Simonova performed an abridged version of her sand story, “Don’t Be Too Late!” The original version of this sand story was what Simonova performed at the final of Ukraine’s Got Talent. Her amazing skill and touching story set to music received a standing ovation from the audience and all four judges.
“In my mind, tonight, right here, right now, you are the champion,” praised judge Howie Mandel, after telling Simonova, “what [she does] is beautiful.” Judge and creator of the Got Talent franchise, Simon Cowell, also lauded the artist, claiming that she is “one of the best contestants we’ve had over the years all around all the world.”
Host Terry Crews was also moved by Simonova and her work. “I have never been more impressed by the ability to move people the way you did today,” he claimed before hitting the infamous golden buzzer. In a separate video, Crews, who aside from being an actor and former athlete is also an illustrator, said that “as a fellow artist…I said that this is the time for this to be recognized on the worldwide stage…”
As a result of earning the golden buzzer, Simonova qualified directly for the final, not having to qualify through the public vote (which was on by reigning AGT champion, magician Shin Lim. She will compete against the other finalists Monday, February 11, at 8 PM EST on NBC.
Watch her moving performance here: