During Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent, 14-year-old Courtney Hadwin brought the judges and the audience to their feet with her performance of James Brown “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” As previously reported by Inquisitr, the teenage singer received a Golden Buzzer from Howie Mandel following her performance of “Hard to Handle” by Otis Redding during her audition.
While the performance was initially received as “mature” and “soulful,” the young singer – as well as NBC – is now receiving a great deal of backlash on social media as at-home viewers have begun to recognize her name. According to People, AGT fans took to Twitter to slam both Courtney and NBC for not being completely forthcoming about her previous music performance history.
As those who recall her initial AGT audition, she was introduced as a very shy teenager from England. While judges thought she was “sweet,” they weren’t sure what to make of her until she started to sing and stunned everyone.
It has now come to light – according to People– that the young singer is a great deal more comfortable on stage than she initially let on. Just last year, Courtney placed in the top six for U.K. The Voice Kids.
Outraged fans have taken to Twitter slamming AGT, NBC, and the judges for allowing someone with previous singing experience to compete.
One user pointed out the fact that Simon was also a judge on the U.K. The Voice Kids show that the teenager had competed in just last year.
.@AGT Courtney Hadwin was on Britain's The Voice Kids last year and Simon was a judge. Why wasn't that mentioned, especially since it comes up when you google her...— Julie Briggs (@jbsets29) August 15, 2018
A second criticized why the judges and network were bringing in “ringers” from other countries.
@AGT @howiemandel @SimonCowell @OfficialMelB I Love the show but it seems this year you are bringing in ringers from other shows & countries not America. Example - The Sacred Riana (winner of 2017 Asia's Got Talent) & Courtney Hadwin (Finalist The Voice Kids UK 2017). Why?— Michael A Pecoraro (@mikedotcalm) June 19, 2018
A third criticized the judges for “fake reacting” to someone they already knew was a good performer.
@AGT Stop having your judges fake react to acts they are already familiar with. Most people watching are already familiar with Riana and others are familiar with Courtney Hadwin and the judges certain should know who they are but instead they act like they never heard of them!!— VJose32 (@vjose32) July 25, 2018
Several other users argued it wasn’t exactly fair for the judges to allow Hadwin to perform given her previous experience.
#agt @howiemandel Courtney Hadwin said she’d never performed B4 an audience that big & she & her dad acted like they didn’t know if she could perform cuz she’s so shy. But she was a finalist in The Voice UK! So act is fake! U shudnt B allowed 2 compete if Uve been on other shows!— Samantha (@Samantha_Ronnie) June 13, 2018
I want to know why the “Sacred Riana” act on America’s GT isn’t being recognized by more people. She was the winner of Asia’s GT in 2017. Am I missing something? Oh and Courtney Hadwin got pretty far in the Voice kids bun now she’s a golden buzzer on AGT!?!?! Ummm— Kiley (@KileyMae99) July 27, 2018
According to Daily Mail, Courtney’s grandfather defended the decision to perform for AGT. “We always believed she would do well in the U.S.A.,” her grandfather explained. “We knew they would get it in a way that the U.K. didn’t. We knew she would go down a storm over there.”
'After Discovering Her Past America's Got Talent' Fans Are Taking Issue With Courtney Hadwin https://t.co/3FuDlL538e— 105.7 Man Up (@1057ManUp) August 15, 2018
Speaking to Good Housekeeping, a spokesperson of AGT explained the younger singer technically wasn’t violating any of the contest rules.
“International acts are eligible to participate in the initial AGT auditions on visitor visas. If selected to proceed to the program live shows, AGT works with acts to secure appropriate performer visas which give acts authorization to perform throughout the series.”
Despite the backlash and criticism, many AGT fans continue to flood Twitter with love and support for Courtney. A few Twitter users even went as far as to exclaim that the young singer “better win.”
Straight up if Courtney Hadwin doesn’t win America’s Got Talent I’m never watching that show again.— Will Shipman (@W_Ship_) August 15, 2018
Episodes of America’s Got Talent air on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.