American pianist, singer and songwriter Kodi Taehyun Lee has been crowned the champion of the latest season of popular TV showAmerica’s Got Talent (AGT). Kodi has won an award of $1 million and will get a chance to headline shows at Paris Hotel Casino in Las Vegas from November 7-10.
What has made Lee’s success incredible is that he overcame debilitating disabilities and wowed a nation to emerge as the winner of AGT. The 23-year-old performer is visually challenged and is on the autism spectrum. But that’s only scratching the surface of this extremely talented individual who got a standing ovation from judges Gabrielle Union, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, and Julianne Hough at every stage of the competition.
Lee, according to San Diego Tribune, was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia when he was three. It meant he was legally blind. Later, when he was four, he was found to be on the autism spectrum disorder. The condition has affected his hormones and Lee has great difficulties processing emotions. Tina Lee, his mother, explains that her son can laugh spontaneously and it’s difficult for him to convey pain. But as along as Lee keeps playing, performing, or recording music, he is in his own happy space. Music, his mother says, has actually saved his life.
Lee can play six different musical instruments. He is also an accomplished tap dancer. Mandel told Lee during one of his performances that he is a great latent and even greater inspiration.
Kodi had to work hard to master the piano. His website mentions him as a savant. He has been performing for several years now and has an audio-photographic memory. It helps him recall music after hearing a song once, regardless of the language.
While Hough fought back tears during Lee’s performance, Simon said that he would remember the moment for the rest of his life.
We at Rangam andSourceAbledheartily congratulate Kodi Lee on winning the 14th season of America's Got Talent. We were fortunate to see him perform at the Disability: IN Annual Conference & Expo in July this year. Lee's rendition of Donny Hathaway's "A Song for You" was powerful and touching, proving one more time what amazing things await you when you put mind over matter and determination over disabilities. We convey our best wishes to Lee and his family and can't wait to see him going from strength to strength in his musical odyssey.