Great songs have a life of their own. Consider “I Will Always Love You.” Dolly Parton’s original is the stuff of legend. Whitney Houston’s cover for the all-conquering The Bodyguard soundtrack, iconic.

Now, there’s the Roland Abante’s heart-wrenching rendition for America’s Got Talent.


Abante, a fisherman from the Philippines, left nothing to chance as he belted out the classic ballad, hitting an array of high notes, with force, control and enough feel to touch everyone in the room.

A standing ovation awaited.

“Look at everyone here. They’re going crazy for you,” remarked Sofia Vergara. “People love you.” This qualifier performance she said, was a “good job tonight, you’re amazing.”

Did Simon Cowell like it? No, not exactly. “Somehow, I loved it,” he remarked. The acerbic Brit recounted how, during his emotional audition, Abante was “singing your life out on stage there. That’s what makes this competition exciting. People who come from all over the world to fulfill their dreams.” America, he remarks, “loves you.”

Fellow judge Howie Mandel remarked, “the perfect song, the perfect voice, it was spectacular. When he sang I will always love you, you just made everyone in the world love you. This was memorable. I believe this was the performance of a final.”

Heidi Klum loved the performance too, remarking that if there was access to a golden buzzer to push him through to the final, she’d hit it.

Sadly, there isn’t. Just two performers from this round go through. Now it’s America’s turn to vote.

Following his audition earlier in season 18, Abante, speaking through an interpreter, explained that he caught fish in the morning, and was a courier and ride-share driver through the rest of the working day. The extent of his stage activity back home is singing karaoke. Judging by his performances on the AGT stage, that lifestyle could be about to change.

Watch the performance below.


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