When 13-year-old Courtney signed up for “America’s Got Talent” (AGT) in 2018, she didn’t know that it would be a turning point in her life, and her music career. The aspiring singer delivered a jaw-dropping performance met with a standing ovation and an eruption of applause. Even the judging panel was amazed by her vocal abilities, and unique dancing moves at such a young age, particularly Howie Mandel, who gave her a golden buzzer! Since she took the world by storm and went viral on social media, fans have wondered about her current projects and music career.

Who is Courtney Hadwin?

Courtney Hadwin is an English singer and songwriter, who came into the limelight after her performance on “AGT.” She was born on 6 July 2004, in Hartlepool, County Durham, England, to parents Ann-Marie and Paul Hadwin. Courtney has two younger siblings, a sister Melissa and a brother Paul. Her father, Paul, disclosed that Courtney has been very musical since she was five years old, when she began singing. Courtney spent most of her life in Haselden, a small village in Northeast England. Her mother once talked about the village: ‘Hesleden is small with a school, a shop, a pub, a park, and a working men’s club. It used to be a real mining community. But there isn’t really much in the village. You have to travel out to do things.’

Talking of her education, Courtney attended Haselden Primary School, and then The Academy at Shotton Hall in Peterlee until 2018. Adamant in furthering her knowledge and upgrading her vocal skills, she attended and trained at various institutions, such as Shotton Hall Theatre School, Peanuts Master Classes, Kate Sirs School of Music, and Julie Mile’s Vocal Ovation. Her grandfather disclosed that she had worked with a vocal coach, and even collected money herself by busking, to pay for the lessons.

Her First Competition

The young prodigy first entered a singing competition in 2015, signing up for “TeenStar” in Newcastle, England, where she performed her unique version of “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan. So it’s not surprising that she reached the grand final, but eventually didn’t win the competition. However, several of her performances caught fire, including the “Say Something” ballad by Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, which caused quite a stir, as Courtney said: ‘I haven’t been able to walk down the corridor at school without someone stopping me and saying ‘well done’. It’s been weird but good at the same time.’

In 2016, she received Hartlepool’s Performer of the Year award, and became a finalist in the Beyond the Lights awards ceremony. In an interview, she talked about her musical influences: ‘From Little Richard, James Brown and Mick Jagger to Janis Joplin. It’s a really long list!’

The Voice Kids U.K.

Many do not know that Courtney had already competed in a similar show before she signed up for “AGT.” In 2017, she auditioned for “The Voice Kids U.K.,” wowing the judges with her raw talent. First, she sang Tina Turner’s “Nut Bush City Limits,” successfully getting Danny Jones to turn his chair and become her mentor. Next, Courtney sang “Dancing in the Street” during the battle round” against Eboni Green and Hollie Firmin, and went through to the semi-finals, performing “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown. In July 2017, she sang “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls” for the finals – she was eliminated, but having gained popularity through her appearances on the show, she was given an opportunity to be the opening act for the group “Sister Sledge” at a South Tyneside Festival, singing in front of 18,000 people.

“America’s Got Talent”

In 2018, the seemingly shy Courtney stepped on the stage and gave a unique rendition of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle,” prompting Howie to bestow her with the highly coveted golden buzzer. If by any chance you might be unfamiliar with the term golden buzzer on “AGT,” it’s a fast ticket to live performances, which allows a performer to skip several rounds of the competition. In addition, every judge on the panel has one golden buzzer, including the host, which results in five performers going directly to live shows.

Courtney displayed her vocal abilities, and showed that she’s an artist and performer with an attention-grabbing stage presence. Her dancing was compared to that of the great Janis Joplin, which was interesting given that Courtney also has a husky tone, very reminiscent of Janis’. Howie was so surprised when this shy girl turned into a beast on stage, without being uncomfortable or nervous, that he even commented that Courtney was out of this world, and that was enough for Howie to send her straight to the quarterfinals.

For her first live performance, she sang “Papa’s got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown, and her enthralling performance came with no shortage of her signature dance moves – similar to her audition, she again had the whole arena on their feet by the end. Furthermore, she proved to Howie that she was a well-deserved golden buzzer recipient, and even Simon Cowell went to hug Howie after her performance and said: ‘Howie, an amazing pick! We should be starting a record label together. It was outstanding!’ She progressed in the competition week after week, singing “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf for the semi-finals, and “River Deep-Mountain High” by Tina Turner for the final show. Channeling her inner rock goddess, she sang “Piece of my Heart” by Janis Joplin with “The Struts” but failed to win the grand prize, which was taken by the magician Shin Lim.

Even though she wasn’t crowned the winner, Courtney booked five live shows with Shin Lim in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel and Casino. Fun fact: her performance at the “AGT” was the most viewed performance of the show’s 13th season.

She spoke to Forbes about her experience being on the show, saying: ‘It was amazing and so unforgettable. I am just me, and it was great that AGT let me be me on stage. I think the stage is the place where I feel most comfortable and most myself. My favorite part was meeting the contestants and singing with a live band.’

In 2019 she returned to the “Americas Got Talent: Champions,” which is a spin-off series that features the most impressive and unique performers from “AGT”, usually winners, finalists, and runners-up. Courtney performed her original song, “Pretty Little Thing,” for her audition, and though she finished in third place that season, her presence and performances cemented her shot at stardom, and set the tone of her career.

Why did she audition for “America’s Got Talent”?

It is not unusual for aspiring singers to sign up for several competition shows, hoping to get a lucky break. However, what is a bit odd is going from “The Voice U.K.: Kids” to ‘AGT.” Why? Well, many wondered why she didn’t go straight to “Britain’s Got Talent,” which is a sister show of “AGT” and takes place in England. A media outlet asked her about it, and she disclosed: ‘We wanted to do America’s Got Talent because it’s the biggest show in the world. and it’s where all my idols are from. I remember singing and then getting to a certain point in the song and seeing people enjoy it, which made me happy. I must’ve been doing something right.’

While everyone was surprised to hear her voice in the arena, her parents and grandfather weren’t surprised at all by the warm welcome and reception. He said: ‘We always believed she would do well in the US, we knew they would get it in a way that the UK didn’t. We believed in her. and knew that she would go down a storm over there.’

Record Deal

Even though Courtney didn’t come out on top, she earned herself a record deal equivalent to winning the show, minus $5 million. In December 2018, she signed a record deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Arista Records, and in 2019, she released her first body of work, “The Cover Sessions,” which, as its name implies, consists of various covers of well-known songs, including Harry Style’s “Sign of the Times,” Lil Nas’ “Old Town Road,” and “Someone You Love” by Lewis Capaldi.

In 2020, she rewarded her fans with another original song, “Happy Xmas (the war is over).”

She appeared on Howie’s Podcast

In December 2021, Courtney guest appeared on Howie’s podcast entitled “Howie Does Stuff”, and shared her insight into her life since her “AGT” audition. Howie revealed that the production told him she was very nervous and stressed before coming on stage, to the point of being sick. Luckily, the moment she started singing, all nerves went away.

Howie asked about her record label, and she said that she wasn’t allowed to reveal that information, but she would disclose it first to her followers when the time came, so it remains unclear whether she’s still signed to Simon Cowell’s record company. She also talked about her new album and direction, saying that she wanted to make music similar to Amy Winehouse, but branch out into creating her unique style of music.

Interestingly, she isn’t fond of her audition and her previous projects, revealing: ‘I hate listening to myself. I hate it. I cringe. Whenever I listen back to something I did, it makes me feel weird.’

Dealing with Bullies

While most dream of appearing on talent shows and becoming the next star, there is also a negative side to being in the public eye. Being on “The Voice UK: Kids” should have been a rewarding experience for Courtney, but it wasn’t. Even though she enjoyed singing and working with Danny Jones, many of her peers had a negative opinion about her singing and dancing, and were vocal about it. Her grandfather told a media outlet: ‘”Online, people were quite cruel, saying she wasn’t a singer but a shouter.’ Most of the bullying she suffered after her stint on “AGT” was online. However, back home and in school, she was confronted with many bullies who didn’t care to say mean things to her face. Being targeted by vicious bullies wasn’t easy, she said: “At school, people laugh at you. They’re not used to people singing like me. I get called names. They say I sing like a boy. I try not to let it get to me, and just hope they’re watching me now.”

Knowing the dangers of being in the limelight, her mother shared her opinion: ‘It made me scared of the spotlight, but it’s not my life, it’s hers. How can I not if she’s brave enough to ignore it?” Her father added: ‘All big singers get haters. Look at Ed Sheeran. He had to delete his Twitter account because he couldn’t cope with it.’

Unfortunately, bullying comes with the job, and people tend to be even meaner when they can hide their identity, and write comments without consequences. Luckily, Courtney knows how to deal with hate, and doesn’t pay attention to haters!

What is she doing now?

If you follow Courtney on social media, such as TikTok or Instagram, you know that she’s very active, and loves to keep her fans updated. In 2021, she posted videos of herself singing in a studio, working on some new music. Although she hasn’t released any songs so far, she posted a demo of her song entitled “Keep the Monsters Away”, and regularly posts snippets from her songwriting and producing sessions.

According to the latest sources, the 18-year-old star is currently living in Los Angles, and focusing on a new album set to be released by the end of 2022. This information is fascinating, because she revealed in one of her previous interviews: ‘I’d love to live in America. I’d miss home, but if I went to the US, I’d bring my family with me anyway. I couldn’t survive without them. Who says that dreams do not come true?

Courtney has been writing songs and collaborating with various producers, including Max Martin, who wrote for Britney Spears. After she finishes her recordings, she plans to go to the heart of the Rock ‘n’ Roll, Pittsburgh, where she will meet her new team members. Judging from her social media, Courtney is not the shy girl who once auditioned for “AGT”. Several changes are evident; most apparent, her hair which she died bright red. She often jumps on TikTok trends, and likes to share details of her life with her followers. Courtney recently celebrated her 18th birthday in Turkey and enjoyed singing at a karaoke bar.

Her Social Media

The young star is very popular on various social media. She has nearly 350,000 followers on TikTok, with over 2.3 million likes. Her Instagram boasts over 500,000 followers, while her Twitter account has almost 60,000 followers.

Although she usually posts her cover and new information about her career on TikTok, she also has a self-titled YouTube channel, launched in 2010, but didn’t posted her first video until 2019, a live performance from her album “The Cover Sessions”. In early 2022, she posted four videos of her singing covers of popular songs such as “Beggin’” by Maneskin, and Survivor by “Destiny’s Child”. Her channel currently has over 600,000 subscribers and over 30 million views.

The next Janis Joplin, as she was called by Howie and numerous others who see star potential in her and the birth of a new rock style, has a bright future ahead of her! Since her fantastic audition on “AGT,” she continues to strive for stardom, and with the new album coming, there is little doubt that she’ll reach the heights!

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