The anticipation on “America's Got Talent” was clearly more apparent for the 11 semifinalists taking their final shot at making the finals on the September 11 live show. The revelation of the vote tally on tonight's (September 12) results show will mean dramatic turns in the performers’ lives. While the anxiety was evident for some, a few performers like Courtney Hadwin, who had not performed since last month, poured out their hearts with a vengeance.

A personal stand

Christina Wells had the unenviable pressure of being first to perform, and rather than shrink under the pressure, she used her moment for all it was worth, even in her pre-performance profile.

She related that when she sees the reflection in the mirror now, she can appreciate that “she's not skinny, she's not perfect, she's me,” and that acceptance makes the singer “just right.” Her selection of “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)” could not have been more perfect, despite being overpowered by the enhanced production. She made the song all her own.

Heidi Klum gave Christina a standing ovation, saying that “only you” could sing Aretha Franklin’s song on this night. Howie Mandel reminded her that “you are perfect because you are you,” no matter the pushed notes. Mel B still dubbed Christina's voice “spectacular,” urging everyone to remember all her performances. Simon Cowell noted the “over-orchestrated” production, and missed notes, but the comments didn't sway Christina.

She proclaimed: “Every minute that I stand here, whether I sing every note right or not...I am proud that I stand here." Tyra Banks shared that she knew Aretha was in Dolby Theatre and reminded Christina that she is a beautiful woman.

The dance group Da Republik probably had the same heart and spirit as their first audition, but this performance looked more like an audition performance than one for the finals.

Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, and Mel B all noted that it seems somewhat of a step down for the troupe, but Heidi Klum added: “I never get tired of you.” Now, their fate will be up to their voting fans.

Singer Noah Guthrie was in another quandary over song choice. His switch to the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” per Simon Cowell's insistence during Judge Cuts meant his survival in the competition, while Cowell credited his original songwriting in later performances.

This time, Noah took a big risk with Dolly Parton's iconic “I Will Always Love You,” and this time, Simon Cowell said the song had two halves, the first being dreadful, and then becoming a great song in the last 20 seconds. Mel B was “50-50” on the effort, not liking the song rendition, while Howie Mandel gave Guthrie a standing ovation. Heidi Klum appreciated the stripped-down version, reflecting that it gives an artist no place to hide. The vote could be shaky at best for Guthrie, but he has pulled through before.

Daniel Emmet is another performer who knows the feeling of being saved. The operatic singer had been America's “save” vote to make it to the semifinals, and had previously done dual-language performances, as well as his daring turn with Aerosmith’s “I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.” Emmet played it very safe this time, perhaps too safe, choosing “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” and doing a passionate, but straight-on, performance.

After calming Tyra Banks down, Simon Cowell wasn't swept away until the final 20 seconds. Mel B wanted to hear a second language, while Heidi Klum dubbed Daniel an early “best of the night” performer. Howie Mandel called it “musical theater,” and was clearly disappointed.

A time to rise

Leave it to Angel City Chorale to come through with the first truly uplifting moment of the night. On the somber and sacred commemoration of September 11 from 17 years ago, the singing ensemble that personifies the best elements of unity, acceptance, and inclusion performed Bruce Springsteen's “The Rising,” literally filling the auditorium with not only their voices, but brilliant light in their all-white attire and beaming lights.

The brilliance of their souls and spirits was contagious, as the full audience had raised hands. Director Sue Fink declared that the performance was dedicated to all the first responders that sacrificed everything. Mel B was on her feet with Simon Cowell in a standing ovation, and said that the choir “could not have done any better.” Cowell applauded them as “one of the best choirs” ever on “America's Got Talent,” celebrating their performance as “joyous and optimistic.” Howie Mandel added: "You are more than the song you sing."

Dangerous magician Aaron Crowe once again chose Howie Mandel to be his victim. Crowe put the comedian into his own wooden crate, wearing noise-canceling headphones, while fellow judges selected numbers on wooden blocks to determine which box would be crushed by a suspended anvil.

It was a real-life episode of the Roadrunner cartoon, made very real. First came box one, then three, and Simon Cowell had to choose between two and four. Fortunately, after a change of heart, the British judge saved Howie in box two. Howie Mandel said he could feel the brush of the wind and wood by his face, and Simon Cowell proclaimed that he was disappointed that there wasn't more death risk. Mel B liked that Crowe kept it moving this time, and, of course, Heidi was scared and she loved it.

All four judges gave standing ovations to comedian Vicki Barbolak, who had the audience eating up her routine as she detailed everything from her visit to Italy to turning a DUI stop into a date at Denny’s with the cop.

Simon Cowell had never heard of Denny’s, but he offered to take Vicki there for a Grand Slam breakfast, admitting his crush on her. Howie Mandel insisted that she is the comedian fit for the finals, and Heidi Klum proposed that she market her idea for a wine box fullness indicator. Mel B praised that “you get me every time.” The comic category is tight this year, with Samuel J Comroe being another fan favorite. Fans will have tough decisions to make.

Bring on the music

Family band We Three has been a crowd favorite -- until Simon Cowell disapproved of the band’s quarterfinals effort. They were trying to go with a lighter, more “fun” angle with an original song, “Make Up,” in this “America's Got Talent” round, but they lost a little ground.

Mel B was still in their corner, offering a standing ovation and being into the song and their harmonies, while Howie Mandel felt “no pop” in this performance. Heidi Klum didn’t feel that the family had risen to past levels, and Simon Cowell called the performance “a mess.” We Three will need every vote to pull them into the finals.

Glennis Grace got a glorious boost from her son before going on stage, and the singer had a truly inspired performance of “This Woman’s Work,” feeling every note. Grace grabbed unanimous standing ovations from the judges, too. All Mel B could yell was “YES!” in her review of the performance. Heidi Klum agreed, saying Glennis was showing why she needed to be in the finals.

Simon Cowell called it the singer’s best effort, praising that “you did everything,” and Howie Mandel said that Grace was the performer who “brought it home.” His golden buzzer pick had not yet hit the stage.

Brian King Joseph exuded his beaming smile even before his bow ever ran across his violin strings, and he gave the most emotional performance of his “America's Got Talent” stay. He took his high-energy to the audience, playing up and down the aisles. At one point, he was playing his instrument like a guitar. The artist was truly taking his music to the people, and they loved it. Heidi Klum simply said that he was “on fire.” Howie Mandel praised that Brian had lived up to the big production, and Simon gushed that the violinist was “in such a different league” with this performance that he could win the competition.

Courtney Hadwin had not taken the “America's Got Talent” stage since her quarterfinals performance of “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” complete with her backward struts from her boot-clad feet. The English schoolgirl still has legions of worldwide followers, despite taking some heat for having contended earlier in "The Voice Kids” in the UK. She did not break any "AGT" rules by competing elsewhere, and both she and her dad have spoken about how no one seemed to “get her” until she came to this stage.

Howie Mandel was already screaming before Courtney came out, and her take on “Born to Be Wild” was as completely raucous as it gets, despite the demure braids she donned. Appropriately wearing black boots for her biker anthem, the singer stomped and sidestepped through every beat.

Simon Cowell knows that Courtney is not about perfect notes -- she is “a bundle of fun and excitement” in his words. Howie Mandel was too excited to sit down, saying his girl would win. Mel B appreciated that Courtney was “out there” in every way, and the shy schoolgirl provided another unforgettable finish, breaking into happy tears.

The votes will be revealed tonight, and it's certain to be a tense verdict.