Six years ago – before we moved to middle Georgia, before we lived in Germany – our youngest son introduced me to America’s Got Talent. Initially, I watched it as a mama-courtesy, to humor my boy but mostly just to spend time with him doing something he enjoyed. It didn’t take long for the show to hook me; AGT brings together the most diverse talent on the planet. My favorite act of 2010/AGT’s 5th season was  who came up short in 3rd place. Singer/musician won.

AGT has no language or nudity (though judge Mel B pushes the envelope with her cleavage-hefting, second-skin outfits) and it’s heartening and inspiring to watch contestants ranging from six-year-old comedian Nathan Bockstahler to 90-year-old burlesque dancer Dorothy Williams share the same stage.  Tonight marks the Finale for Season 11 and I already have my guesses as to who will win it all. It has been an incredible, fantastical season.

Last year my boy went off to college, but my husband and I are still watching. Funny, but it almost feels like he’s still with us. I mean, how many shows can a family watch together anymore?

All 12 finalists have good reason to be competing for the top spot, but a few of the acts eliminated were tough to see leave. In descending order, my thoughts on the finalists:

10. . Amazingly, this guy has yet to utter a word the entire season, and yet here he is in the Finals. He’s mime comedy on crack, and his timing, delivery, and originality is what got him here. His talent is definitely unique.

9. . Oh, man…their story. It slays me. Their talent? Also slays me. They’re not a book’s cover to be judged. These guys from Kentucky have a sweet sound and when they shed a tear? You might just find yourself joining in. I hate putting them at number nine but the competition is that tough….

8. Imagine Frank Sinatra’s voice and stylings and you’re just beginning to get a picture of Sal. He’s a charmer, a crooner, and one heckuva go-getter–he’s made it clear from the beginning he’s in it to win it. You can’t help but love this guy and his sidekick  cousin, Tommy, characters straight outta Long Island. Also? Today is his 21st birthday…he’s a much older soul, though.

7.  Laura Cretan. It’s really not fair for me to place Laura at #7; she’s possibly the most talented kid on the block. But AGT is also about personal taste, and while I love me some popopera, there are several other acts I happen to like better. She’s fantastic and I cannot imagine her not having a recording and/or stage career. She’s only 13, btw. Crazyville.

6. . A professional football player or magician?  How about both? He has shocked me with his performances. The one I’m linking to is my favorite (so far). Jon is a likable guy, and though I was skeptical in the beginning, he has won me over week after week with consistent amazingness.

5. The Clairvoyants. Phenomenal. Incredible. Mind-blowing. I cannot figure out how they do what they do. Every week they’ve stepped up their game; every week they surprise me with something new. I would pay to see them in their own show, and it’s not so hard to imagine them in Vegas. They’re fresh, sweet, and seem really to enjoy what they do.

4. Brian Justin Crim. It seems like Brian has been one of the judge’s favorite darlings from the beginning, and I’m a big fan, too. He’s had his own version of a hard story and it’s lovely to see him achieve a dream that has long been in his heart. He could definitely come away with the top prize, and that would be just fine with me. I hope he’s as sweet as he seems.

3. His body is incredibly poetic and he makes juggling just about the coolest thing ever. He’s spent a lifetime preparing for this moment, and if he doesn’t come away with a win, I can still see him headlining his own show, or maybe “settling” for Cirque du Soleil. He’s been a favorite of mine from his first performance because he’s taken something I’ve seen all my life and made it new and beautiful.

2. Sofie Dossi. In a word, astonishing. You MUST watch her performances – all of them – to believe them. Really, truly, anyone in the finals could win, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to decide. Sophie has poise, maturity, and stage presence well beyond her 14 years. She’s self taught, choreographs her own performances, and does things with her body I not only wouldn’t think possible, but would’ve never thought of to begin with.

1. Also a judge’s darling from her first performance, I think Grace has what it takes to win. She’s special. At only 12 years old, she’ll get the tween vote; touted as the “next Taylor Swift” by the judges, she’ll get the teen vote; and with an uncommon, memorable, brilliant voice, she’ll get America’s vote. This precious young lady writes her own music, plays the ukulele, seems grounded with a great love of family and her big sis…and she will have a music career with or without America’s Got Talent.

Your turn: Are you a fan? What’s your order of the finalists? What about your top three? Not a fan? Have I piqued your interest enough to follow the links to these FANTASTICAL performers? You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t check ’em out!! 🙂



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