Celine Tam

Hong Kong singing sensation Celine Tam, 9, advances to live show stage of America’s Got Talent

US actress Laverne Cox so impressed by pint-sized songbird that she uses ‘golden buzzer’ to send her directly to next round

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 10:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 4:20pm

Pint-sized Hong Kong singer Celine Tam Tsz-kwan will be heading to the next stage of America’s Got Talent after adding a popular US actress to her growing list of fans.

Wearing a gold dress, the nine-year-old star with a huge voice belted out Michael Bolton’s 1983 ballad How Am I Supposed To Live Without You during the show on Tuesday, local time.

Guest judge and Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox was so impressed that she used her single “golden buzzer” to send Celine straight through to the next stage – the live shows.

“I just want to eat you up and take you home, you were so adorable and so cute and your voice is amazing,” Cox told Celine.

“I am really blown away, you are so talented, unbelievable, so adorable,” she said, slamming down on the golden buzzer and releasing a flurry of golden confetti.


Golden Buzzer Thank you so much @lavernecox ️️ See you all in the live shows

A post shared by Celine Tam 譚芷昀 (@celinetam) on Aug 1, 2017 at 5:54pm PDT

Celine stood open-mouthed in shock before receiving a celebratory hug from Cox on stage. Her parents and younger sister Dion could be seen watching from the audience.

“I want to go to the live shows so badly. Can I go now?” Celine had asked in a pre-taped interview segment.

Judges are each given one chance to send an act directly through to the live shows, where they compete against 35 other performers and groups to make it to the semi-finals and final. The series winner will be announced in September, and win US$1 million.

Hong Kong singer Celine Tam, 9, into next round of America’s Got Talent

Celine will be up against another pre-teen with a big voice, Angelica Hale, a 10-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, who also received the golden buzzer.

After her performance, Celine used social media to thank fans and Cox. “Oh my gosh I just received the #GoldenBuzzer from @LaverneCox! Thank you so much judges, I can’t wait to see you at the LIVE SHOWS!” she posted on Twitter.

America’s Got Talent fans shared their support for Celine online during the performance.

“I’m already crying,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Celine Tam is going to win the whole show. I have goosebumps,” another said.

Performers from around the world are allowed to compete on the show, as long as they are legally in the United States at the time of the initial audition, according to the eligibility rules on the show’s website.

Celine shot to stardom in June when she performed Celine Dion’s 1997 hit My Heart Will Go On during the America’s Got Talent auditions.

She impressed the judges – including the notoriously tough Simon Cowell – and made it through to the next round of cuts.

She has since received international attention, including from her idol, Canadian star Celine Dion, after whom she was named.

But the nine-year-old’s path to fame has not been without controversy.

Her father, singing coach Steve Tam Shun-sang, who calls himself “Dr Steve”, has been accused of stealing singing students from a local celebrity, faking a doctoral degree and cashing in on his daughter’s television success.

At the launch of his own album in June, Tam showed off his doctoral certificate and apologised to Hong Kong actress Nancy Sit Ka-yin, who had accused him of stealing her students.

“I will step up my efforts to learn and improve,” he said at the time. “Everyone has his own past. I have my shortcomings. As a father, in my journey of life, my children have given me a very good opportunity to learn.”

Tam has been credited with coaching Celine, who has been singing since she was three years old.

In 2015, Celine also sang on the British version of the talent show, and at Hong Kong’s National Day reception.