“America’s Got Talent” produced the competition series’ first-ever saxophonist, Avery Dixon, during its 17th season on TV. He received the highly coveted Golden Buzzer during his audition, which automatically sent him directly to the live shows. While he impressed the panel of judges from his audition to his Top 11 Finals performances, he never made it to the top five as he didn’t garner enough votes from viewers. Social media went buzzing with disappointment about the result, some feeling that Avery was robbed, without saying how. Still, many thought that with a talent like his, it wouldn’t be the end of the road for him.
- 1 “America’s Got Talent”
- 2 The different rounds of competitions in “AGT”
- 3 Avery Dixon’s journey in the 17th season of “America’s Got Talent”
- 4 Get to know Avery Dixon
- 5 Where is Avery Dixon now?
“America’s Got Talent”
The world would never run out of aspiring talents to discover, and that was the reason why the talent competition reality-TV show, “America’s Got Talent,” fondly called “AGT” by fans, has continued to flourish over the years since it premiered on 21 June 2006.
A brief background on how it started
Everything about “AGT” was Simon Cowell’s vision, which was originally for British TV. He was hoping that the British version would be launched first before he brought his concept to the US. Unfortunately, even after a pilot was approved and everything was set for filming, his choice of TV host had a falling out with his network. When things weren’t ironed out in the UK, Simon was immediately in talks with various networks in the US, it found a home in NBC, and was greenlighted for filming in 2005.
The panel of judges and the host
The first season of “AGT” had British journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan, actor and executive producer David Hasselhoff, and singer-songwriter Brandy as judges with Regis Philbin as the host. Simon Cowell preferred to work only as the show’s executive producer at that time, but joined the panel of judges in the later seasons of the show. Through the years, the host and judges changed for many reasons; some stayed for only two seasons, but there were those who became part of the show for quite a long time, including Howie Mandel (13 years) and Heidi Klum (9 years). The host also went through the revolving door four times, until they hired Terry Crews, who had already been with AGT for four years.
TV ratings and spinoffs
“America’s Got Talent” captured the fascination of US viewers from day one. The ratings garnered an average of 12 million viewers an episode, and over 16 million viewers watched the fifth season finale episode in 2010; it even attracted international viewers later on. This was evident with the offers Simon Cowell received to create international versions of the show, and by 2022, it boasted of over 70 spin-offs scattered across different continents including Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.
The different rounds of competitions in “AGT”
Appearing in a prestigious talent show on TV wasn’t simple, as the process was difficult and the competition fierce. It took a lot of guts and determination as well as skills to get on the stage and survive each round.
Producers Auditions – preliminary
Before the viewers were given a chance to see the participants on stage, the TV producers conducted their own auditions. “AGT” would hold these “Producers Auditions” off-stage in several cities around the US to give everyone an opportunity to share their talent, whatever it may be. The producers of the show would determine who would go on stage, on camera in front of the judges and viewers.
Auditions for America's Got Talent season 16 are now open! To sign up head to AGTauditions.com! 💥
Judges Audition on stage
The next phase was what the viewers would regard as the first round, as each participant would be given 90 seconds to show his or her talent onstage for the world to see. These auditions were recorded with a live audience, but edited before they were aired on TV. Each participant must get a majority “yes” from the judges for them to proceed to the next round. If they were buzzed using a regular buzzer by any of the judges while performing, it would mean the end of the contestant’s journey, as it was how the judges would stop a performance. However, if any of the judges or the host pressed the golden buzzer after an act, it would mean the participant would advance directly to the live rounds without going through the other rounds.
Second Round – Deliberations
The next stage was generally called the second round, although it was originally called a boot camp in the earlier seasons. A special session with experts would be provided for the contestants as they tried their best to perfect their craft. In this round, the guest judges could eliminate weaker performers, and those who passed this stage would qualify for the live rounds.
The Live Rounds and Finals
After every performance, the contestants would be judged and could face elimination. Those eliminated were given another chance if they qualified to be part of the wildcard team. Contestants would then go through different rounds of competitions such as Top 12, Top 5, and Top 3, but the numbers could change each season. During these rounds, the viewing public would have the final say on who would stay or go until a winner was declared in the finale episode. The winner would end up with the $1,000,000 prize money along, with a limited concert series in Las Vegas, and a possible contact if appropriate.
Changes made in the 17th season
Since the show was launched, changes have been made to the rules of the competition to make it more interesting. It wasn’t a surprise that in the 17th season, more amendments were introduced to the live show format to make it more relevant to the ever-changing landscape of reality-TV competitions. This time, instead of going through deliberations with quarter-final and semi-final rounds, the producers tasked the judges to choose 54 out of 55 acts to advance to the next stage. The last spot was decided by public voting. Those 55 acts were divided into five groups with 11 performers each week, to determine who would get cut from the list. Only two from each group would advance to the Top 11 finalists to compete for the title.
Avery Dixon’s journey in the 17th season of “America’s Got Talent”
During an interview with Avery, he was asked by host of the show Terry Crews, as to when he decided that AGT was the place he needed to be, and the young man said that it wasn’t his choice. The host was surprised, but Avery said it was because he thought he wasn’t good enough. Apparently, it was his Mom who informed him that she would sign him up for the audition because he never did believe in his capabilities. Terry gave him a piece of advice, ‘Sometimes you have to let the people who believe in you do their thing.’ His mother said that he worked hard for it, and that Avery deserved to be there in the show.
Avery’s impressive audition earned him a Golden Buzzer
It was during the first week of the judges’ audition round that Avery Dixon made an appearance in the show. The 21-year-old saxophone player from Atlanta, Georgia was asked by Simon Cowell about his opinion that the saxophone had been in and out of fashion over the years. The young man said that it all depended on the player, an answer which impressed the judges. He chose “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding for his audition piece, and his performance brought the house down, everyone giving him a standing ovation; even the judges had a great time listening to his performance. Avery was so overwhelmed by the reception he received that he was in tears. Simon was the first to give him his first yes that night, and before the second judge could say anything, an emotional Terry Crews pressed the Golden Buzzer, automatically sending him directly to the live rounds.
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) June 1, 2022
Bullying made him play the saxophone
There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience when Avery shared his childhood experience of being bullied. Simon asked him why he chose the saxophone of all the musical instruments – he said that at the time he picked up the sax, he was getting bullied in elementary school, mostly because his voice sounded a little bit different and that he looked a little bit different too. His elementary nickname back then was “Hammerhead” because he had knots on his head due to his premature birth when he was only a pound and 8 ounces, under a kg. His vocal cords weren’t closed all the way, so his voice would come out airy. One of the students called him a frog, and urged the rest of the class to do the same thing. The teasing was relentless, and he was in such a dark place that there was a time when he wanted to commit suicide. He shared, ‘When you are in that mindset, the only thing you want is to quit.’ It was the saxophone that helped him get his mind off all the negativity. That was the reason why he learned to play the instrument.
The cops banged at his door on the eve of his audition
When asked what Avery would do if he wins the title, he said that he wanted to provide his mom and his brother with their own space. Apparently, the night before he flew for that audition, a neighbor called the cops to make him stop making noise. He said that he was trying to practice real hard because “AGT” was such a huge opportunity that he wanted to make everything perfect. Simon then told him that on the “AGT” stage, he could be as loud as he wanted. He also made a shout-out to those who bullied Avery back then whom he called idiots and hoped that they were all watching Avery perform impressively that night. He told Avery, ‘If you’re looking for validation, you just got it.’
Final Rounds with “Ain’t Nobody”
The final rounds were aired live on the 13th and 14th of September 2022, held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Avery competed with the 10 best acts in “AGT,” and was the first in the TV show’s history that a saxophonist was included in the finals. He performed one of Chaka Khan’s signature songs called “Ain’t Nobody,” which had peaked at No.22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 back in 1983. During a recorded interview shown before he was called on stage, Avery shared that it would be his greatest performance. He further said, ‘It’s also the proving round to see what I can do not just as a performer, but as a person.’
He confessed that he was taking a risk as he would try new things that night, and believed that it had to be the one to win him first place. The 3,000-strong audience as well as the panel of judges gave him a standing ovation, which proved that he did something quite amazing. One of the judges, Sofia Vergara, commented that she loved the performance and that there was something about it that made all of them love him. Simon Cowell gave a beautiful assessment, and told Avery that it was a great song choice, and that he nailed his three-minute performance so it seemed as if they were watching from his concert because he was able to control the stage effortlessly.
Performed “Higher Ground” with Trombone Shorty
The second finale episode had the 11 contestants perform with popular artists, and Avery played one of Stevie Wonder’s hit songs, “Higher Ground,” with American musician and actor Tony Andrews, also known as Trombone Shorty. It brought the house down as the audience enjoyed the performance, and everyone was up on their feet dancing to the tunes that the two were seamlessly playing. After the performance, the Grammy Award-winning trombonist said, ‘He’s incredible. I think he’s a star, and I would like to have him join me on tour sometime.’
Avery failed to reach the top five
When the voting results were revealed, Avery wasn’t included in the top five out of the 11 acts who performed. It was a disappointing moment for him, and it clearly showed on his face when it was announced that he was part of the bottom six whose journey in the show ended that night. It was the dance group Mayyas who won first place, the pole dancer Kristy Sellars was second, and the third spot was given to country singer and guitarist Drake Milligan.
Get to know Avery Dixon
Avery Dixon was born on 10 October 2000 with medical conditions that caused him to spend 39 days at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a tube in his throat. His now divorced parents Marcus Dixon and Lisa Cross were afraid at that time that he wouldn’t survive the ordeal, as he was a very small baby. He has an older brother Cortez Dixon whom he would sometime include on his Instagram posts. He started to find solace in playing the saxophone in 2009, and continued to improve his craft over the years.
Avery was recognized as Musician of the Year by the Tommie Smith Youth Initiative and was also given a Yamaha 62 Tenor Saxophone for his achievements by Colgate-Palmolive executives, including its former President and CEO Eugene Kelly. He even received a letter of congratulations for his accomplishments from former US President Barack Obama. In 2019, he released a digital EP entitled “Extraordinaire Entrees”, with four tracks including “Versace on the Floor,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Sweet Love,” and “Total Praise.” His fans can listen to it through Apple Music.
Where is Avery Dixon now?
After the results of the winners were revealed, disappointed fans ranted on social media about Avery being robbed and snubbed; they couldn’t believe that the saxophonist didn’t even make it to the top three. Some felt that another black man was deprived of a title, but others argued that Mayyas deserved the top spot. His fans were worried that this might be the end of the road for Avery. However, they should rejoice that he still had so many plans for his future as an artist.
“America’s Got Talent: All Stars” in 2023
Simon told Avery sometime during the competition that something changed since the first time he met him. ‘I’m gonna predict something. I said this about Carrie Underwood years and years and years ago, which is, you’re gonna be a superstar.’ The fans were quite hopeful at that time, but when he didn’t win, they became skeptical that Simon’s prediction might never happen. However, NBC announced that a new spinoff was created by Simon entitled “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” in which former “AGT” and “Got Talent” franchise contestants were selected to participate, and have a shot at the prestigious title. Avery was included in the list of participants, and it would give him another chance to show his talent. The show is scheduled to air in January 2023, and will have the same set of judges except for Sofia Vergara, and it would still be Terry who was tasked to host the special show.
Avery excitedly shared this good news on his social media page as he uploaded an “AGT: All Stars” poster, and captioned it with ‘Surprise!!!!! I’m back baby and WELCOME TO THE ALLSTARS Airing January 2nd 2023.’ It seems that Avery hasn’t lost his confidence, and will accept new challenges head on.