Patchogue’s Christian Guardino shook off nerves to deliver a powerful version of Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain” on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night, getting a standing ovation from the judges.
“I am so proud I am bursting with emotion,” said judge Howie Mandel. “You’re magic. . . . You said that at the beginning of your life you felt so left out. You know something? You will never be left out again. You are the world.”
Judge Heidi Klum said that when she saw Guardino backstage before the show the 17-year-old singer was so nervous that he was shaking, but he pulled it together for his performance. “It is ridiculous how good you are,” Klum said. “I don’t think you even know it.”
Guardino was one of 12 acts performing Tuesday night in the first of three heats in the Live Shows round. The seven acts that receive the most votes will move forward to the next round and results will be announced on Wednesday night.
Judge Simon Cowell said he expected Guardino, who will be a senior at Patchogue-Medford High School this fall, to advance to the next round and challenged the teenager to do a riskier song the next time.
Guardino has a rare retinal disease and is legally blind, though he regained much of his sight in 2012 after experimental gene therapy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute. His story and his voice are generating plenty of interest.
Fans were gathered at PeraBell’s locations in Patchogue and Riverhead Tuesday night to cheer on and vote for Guardino and perhaps sipping on the #VoteforChristian cocktail, made mainly from bourbon, grapefruit juice and bitters. David Chiarella, PeraBell’s co-owner, said that Guardino watched his audition, where he crooned Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” at the Patchogue restaurant and was carried around by fans when he received the Golden Buzzer from Mandel, which allowed him to move from his audition directly to the Live Shows. “We’re ready to vote,” said Chiarella, adding that Guardino’s father, Nino, is the restaurant’s pizza maker. “We all love him. He’s such a great kid. He’s so talented, but also so down to earth.”