Inspiration has always driven “America's Got Talent” through its 15 seasons as the champion of talent TV Shows. Shirking the standard of trying to find performers to fit prescribed molds, the competition strives to find artists outside the box who have a story above and beyond a special gift for the stage. Season 15 started out with great promise and more diversity than ever for the competition until the global pandemic shifted priorities to health and safety and survival for everyone involved.

The cast and crew of “America's Got Talent” had to be more creative than ever, and performers had to prove their persistence in attaining their dreams.

The judges were not exempt from the prevailing conditions. Even the unflappable Simon Cowell was no match for human mistakes, especially when skipping the reading of an instruction manual.

Nonetheless, everyone bringing AGT to the stage soldiered on, and this week's September 22 finals were a testament to hope and resilience through the darkest of times, and those treasured traits have never been more needed. Every performer stepped up their artistry by several notches. Spoken word poet Brandon Leake, the wrongly-imprisoned singer Archie Williams, and the striving single mother Cristina Rae, however, did more than offer superb final performances for their “America's Got Talent” journey. Each gifted performer stamped a fingerprint of healing and hope into hearts.

Youth, spins, and spirit start off the ‘America's Got Talent’ finish

The now 11-year-old Roberta Battaglia could not have been a more perfect performer among the 10 finalists to open the two-night finale of “America's Got Talent.” Not only did her vocals shine on Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” but her young spirit brought hues of brightness to the message that an elder performer could never imagine.

Roberta’s YouTube views have skyrocketed throughout the competition, and of course, Sofia Vergara remains the biggest cheerleader for her golden buzzer girl. Howie Mandel had nothing but good things to say about this performance, and it became an all-Canadian salute before Battaglia left the stage, as the singer called out “I love you, Alessia!” to the original artist, another Canadian.

Battaglia could very well be sharing a marquee with Cara before long.

It was a treat for all the judges to see the live finale performance from India's Bad Salsa, and the phenomenal dancing duo witnessed a show of support from all around their country before hitting the stage. Their routine was faster, wilder, with more dizzying spins than ever, without missing a beat in precision. Even from a socially-distant stage, seeing these dancers live adds a dynamic that no big screen can translate. The performers only arrived from their flight to America late on Sunday and mustered the stamina to dazzle in less than a day. These dedicated performers deserve every benefit of being “America's Got Talent” contenders.

Heidi Klum praised that “I would fly to Vegas to see you-- I would fly to India to see you!” Millions of fans will make their way once it is safe for audiences to offer rousing cheers to talents like this pair.

It's abundantly clear how much music matters to Kenadi Dodds. The teenager described in her profile how music melds her family together, overriding their deficits in vision and allowing them to feel one another in song. Her semifinal performance was a breakthrough on the AGT stage, and this week's finale choice of Carrie Underwood's anthem, “Love Wins,” was an all-out showstopper that showcased Kenadi as fully ready for center stage. America has never seen Dodds with confidence like this, so now there's no looking back.

Heidi Klum complimented that she sees a future much like Taylor Swift's for the singer-songwriter. Howie Mandel was especially wowed when Kenadi turned loose of her guitar and simply belted-out from the stage. This “America's Got Talent” moment solidified this teen singer’s future.

Brandon Leake goes to the depths of a father's love on ‘America's Got Talent’

Poet and spoken word performer Brandon Leake came to the stage earlier than usual for his finale effort, but the chronicle of growing love within the father was on full display as he began his poem celebrating his six-month-old daughter, Aaliyah. Aaliyah means “exalted one,” and the poet certainly exalted his daughter with his dedication, detailing “how I was already in love with you before I could ever hold you before your mother cradled you into existence.”

The loving lines continue, as Leake relates his prayer to “not let my inadequacies become a family legacy.” The message was so full of truth, power, and love that it was almost overwhelming to hear, but, like the poet's prior “America's Got Talent” works, so necessary in these times.

Leake has been willing to take audiences through his family story, from the loss of his sister to the pain of his mother worrying about whether her son will come home from an ordinary evening to reconciling feelings with his father, and becoming a father himself. He has brought a gift never seen before on “America's Got Talent.” The power of his words combined with a fellow artist like Alan Silva or semi-finalist Malik Dope could make for an unforgettable Las Vegas show and one worthy of performance anywhere.

While Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara professed their profound admiration and love for Leake and his gift to his daughter, Howie Mandel revealed another story. He related how Brandon Leake had tried before to come on “America's Got Talent” and been declined.

“You weren’t ready then. You are ready now, and this is your time,” Mandel insisted. Only the voters can decide now.

The fan support for the rocking duo, Broken Roots, has surged since the two were redeemed with the second chance on “America's Got Talent.” The destined duo brought it loud and proud on the Phil Collins classic, “In the Air Tonight.” The guys brought the fire and the passion, and as Heidi Klum reminded, “Anything can happen!” It's not so much of a secret that the musicians are really favorites for Sofia Vergara, too. Howie Mandel praised that it was his favorite performance from the lawmen turned rock stars, and his favorite song, too. A change of careers will probably be in order.

Until now, Howie Mandel has been a huge fan of the strength and balance of siblings, the Bello Sisters. When they began their routine to Dua Lipa’s version of “Physical,” they still displayed their characteristic strength, but they constructed more geometric, “box” shapes with their bodies. The purpose of the change by the “America's Got Talent” favorites was likely to allow their father to have a straight-shooting target for his bow and arrow surprise shot. Heidi and Sofia were sufficiently impressed, saying that the ladies deserved their own stage wherever they wanted. Howie called the effort “shaky” and didn't see the same level of daring as before.

The blessing in brokenness and being alive on ‘America's Got Talent’

Archie Williams has captivated “America's Got Talent” from his very first audition, of which Simon Cowell declared: “I will remember for all of my life.”

The singer who spent 37 years of his life in Angola’s torturous prison for wrongful conviction understands what it is to feel broken, but never allow yourself to be broken. Music became his ministry in prison. Now, he hopes to use his AGT journey to lift others in similar circumstances. Williams chose the most daunting song of the night-- the Beatles’ timeless “Blackbird.” By the end of the opening verse, though, his own personal story and poignant inflections had made its story his own.

Only an imprisoned man can know the true “dark black night” from a cell. Only incarceration can impart the dream of freedom so deeply, and empathy came through every word sung from Archie Williams. He doesn't have the perfect voice. Instead, what he has is a beautiful, imperfect soul that cares enough to share his raw, real ordeal to help others. He is completely deserving of “America's Got Talent” honors. Heidi Klum went so far as to say that it seemed like the Beatles (and truly, Paul McCartney) wrote the song for him. It's a stretch to go that far, but it was certainly another defining moment for Williams.

Aerialist Alan Silva saved his most daring and beautiful routine for the finals. Fire and water mixed in equal measure through his breathtaking feats.

It is a marvel that he maintained his grip through his many hurling descents from the heights of his scaffolding. Somehow, he did, and the result was breathtaking. His wife was there to witness the “America's Got Talent” performance, making it all the sweeter, and the judges’ panel was dazzled. This little artist in stature has huge opportunities waiting in his near future.

Speaking of rising to big songs in big moments, Daneliya Tuleshova did just that for her last “America's Got Talent” performance as a contestant. She devoured Sia’s “Alive” from the demure opening to every pounding chorus. As the judges have noted, she is already a star and cannot be counted out for the win. Her career is already set for an upward trajectory as her fans grow daily.

It doesn't hurt that she loves her mama so much, either.

Heidi Klum already did all she could to transform the future for Cristina Rae and her precious son, Jeremiah, when she hit the golden buzzer for the singer. Rae was back in a familiar place as the closer for the fateful evening. She chose the Imagine Dragons song, “Demons,” and the choice was not only the perfect vehicle to show off her vocal range, but also, its themes of life, hope, fate, and facing the future seemed completely apropos to Cristina’s “America's Got Talent” journey. No matter what the calculations of the tally dictate on results night, the single mother and her son will now share a home and a transformed life together, thanks to mom, who dared to dream it and be it. Howie Mandel dubbed Cristina “the one to beat.” Soon, fans will learn if he's right.

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