The final Golden Buzzer was hit Tuesday night on America's Got Talent, this time by Heidi Klum after a performance from 27-year-old singer-songwriter Lily Meola.
Meola performed her original song "Daydream," telling the judges, "I wrote it at a time when things were really beautiful, and I was essentially living my daydream. I had a major-label record deal. I had a publishing deal. I had butterflies I was hatching. It was magical."
"Then my life flipped upside down, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and I became her full-time caretaker," Meola continued. "I lost my record deal during that, but I think maybe it was a bit of a blessing because it gave me some extra time to really be there for her."
Holding back tears, Meola told the judges her mom passed away, at which point Simon Cowell said, "Lily, I have to ask you this: Are you OK to do this audition?"
"I don't know how I'm going to be able to make it through a song without crying," she said. "But you know, singing was something my mom and I really connected with, and it's how I fell in love with music in the first place — her playing music in the car. So, I'm just trying to make her proud and continue to live my daydream."
After her performance, Klum stood up and enthusiastically pressed down on the Golden Buzzer — the last one of the season — automatically sending Meola to the live rounds.
Meola's mother, Nancy Meola, was an assistant to the famous entertainment manager Shep Gordon, and her brother is pro surfer Matt Meola. She pursued music from a young age, and during a weekly residency at Cafe des Amis in Paia during her late teens, she was scouted by Willie Nelson and dueted with him on his 2013 album "To All the Girls."
Three years later, Rolling Stone named Meola one of "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know." She then signed with Interscope Records but lost the deal when her mother got sick in 2016.
America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8:00 PM ET on NBC.
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Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.