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See ‘America’s Got Talent’ Courtney Hadwin’s Possessed ‘Hard to Handle’

13-year-old contestant goes from awkward to assured in viral performance of Otis Redding’s soul classic

Simon Cowell and his fellow judges on America’s Got Talent fell for the old bait and switch when 13-year-old contestant Courtney Hadwin appeared before their table on this week’s show.

Projecting an awkwardness that left her almost too nervous to perform, Hadwin barely lifted her head up to look at the audience. But when the opening notes of “Hard to Handle” sounded, the shyness curtain quickly dropped. As did the judges’ jaws, as Hadwin bounced about the stage like a dervish, spinning and flailing. Her vocals remained on point, however, delivering the song with a mix of soul, like its originator Otis Redding, and Black Crowes rock.

Howie Mandel compared Hadwin to Janis Joplin. “You are not from this era,” he said, going on to gift the young entertainer with a push of the “Golden Buzzer,” which immediately advances her to the live rounds.

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