WATCH: Soulful Country Singer Dani Kerr Overcomes Nerves To Win Over ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judges

The AGT judges compared Kerr’s vocals to those of Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks.

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Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

June 21, 2023

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Dani Kerr; Photo Courtesy of America’s Got Talent/NBC

Dani Kerr, a 23-year-old country singer from Statesville, North Carolina, chased her country music dreams straight to the stage of America’s Got Talent when she auditioned during Tuesday night’s episode (June 20). 

Kerr, who has been a music lover her entire life, finally got the courage to pursue it just six years ago. 

After she introduced herself, judge Simon Cowell questioned, “I’m curious actually, what do you think about the music business right now for people like yourself?” 

Dani Kerr; Photo Courtesy of America's Got Talent/NBC
Dani Kerr; Photo Courtesy of America’s Got Talent/NBC

Without hesitation, she replied, “I feel like a lot of people have gotten away from being real humans in music and I’m just here to do that. And let people know we’re still human, we’re still us, plus it’s not all robots doing it.”

The singer/songwriter appeared to be nervous and admitted, “When I was a little kid, I never thought that I would even have the courage to sing in front of one person and it’s just, it’s so crazy to be here. It’s a dream come true.” 

When it was time to perform, Kerr closed her eyes, took a deep breath and began strumming her guitar. Her distinctive vocals immediately caught the attention of the judges, but her nerves seemed to be getting in her way. 

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Cowell noticed and stopped Kerr in the middle of her performance. As the live audience began to boo loudly, Cowell said, “Look, I think you were really nervous and I could tell how important this is to you. Let’s try that again. Did you bring another song with you?” 

Lucky for Dani Kerr, she had another song ready to go: an original called “November.” 

During her second performance, the audience cheered loudly, encouraging her to continue. When she finished, the crowd collectively jumped out of their seats and roared with applause. 

Kerr was overcome with emotions at the sight of the supportive audience. 

Dani Kerr; Photo Courtesy of America's Got Talent/NBC
Dani Kerr; Photo Courtesy of America’s Got Talent/NBC

Comparisons To Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks

“Thank you,” she said as she wiped tears away from her face. 

“You’re amazing,” Howie Mandel gushed. “You remind me of, like, a Stevie Nicks.”

“I hear a little Dolly (Parton), a little Miley (Cyrus),” Heidi Klum added. 

“Thank you so much for being here. You’re wonderful,” Mandel continued. 

Kerr ultimately won Simon Cowell over. 

“I love your songs,” Cowell complimented. “I think you’re a great writer. Authentic and importantly your voice is so distinctive. Not only distinctive but you have a beautiful voice. You have one of my favorite voices this year. I really like you.”

Kerr’s audition earned two standing ovations and a “yes” from the entire judges’ panel. 

When Kerr was 16 years old, she overcame her debilitating stage fright while working at her aunt’s restaurant, where she built up the courage to step onto a stage for the first time. Since stepping onto the stage, Dani Kerr has continued to play shows around the Carolinas for the past few years. 

“Being up there and having people clapping afterwards, that’s when I knew I wanted to do it, all the time,” Kerr admitted. (per her official website) ”My whole life I’ve kind of been the underdog. I knew I had to put in the work, I had to prove myself.”

Her unique vocal tone is what sets her apart.

“My voice is not technically perfect, nothing like that,” Kerr shared via her official website. “But I feel like it’s soulful, I can do soft or I can do rock, it’s just very diverse in that way. I’ve been overwhelmed by how people respond.”

Dani Kerr hopes to soulful southern rock sound alive. 

“My motto is, I’m gonna bring soulful rock back into play, try to keep that flame alive, keep it lit, keep it going forever.” 

Season 18 of the popular reality competition show, which finds contestants vying for a chance to win a $1 million prize, launched on May 30.

America’s Got Talent will return on Tuesday, June 27 at 8/7c on NBC.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.