A PETERLEE schoolgirl has won a place in the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent after stunning judges with her rendition of Otis Redding’s Hard to Handle.

Courtney Hadwin, 13, of Hesleden, near Peterlee, got a standing ovation from all four judges.


Judge Howie Mandel was so impressed by her scorching performance that he hit the golden buzzer, fast-tracking her to the live shows and ensuring she remains in the running for the million dollar prize.

Appearing on the stage, Courtney, a pupil at The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee, appeared nervous, but came into her own when she began a performance that delighted the audience.

Simon Cowell said: “Bloody hell Courtney. You were this shy little thing when you came out. And then you sing and you’re like a lion. I mean, genuinely incredible.”

The Canadian comedian and actor said: “Oh my gosh. You are not from this era. You’re from a whole different era.”

He went on to compare her to Janis Joplin and tell her how she got her record deal after being discovered by Clive Davis at the Monterey Pop Festival.

He added: "I’m not Clive Davis, I’m Howie Mandel, and I can’t sign you to a record deal. The only thing I can do for you young lady is give you this!’ before slamming the Golden Buzzer.

Courtney, who burst into tears, tweeted after the show: “I didn’t know what to expect when I auditioned for [America’s Got Talent] but the golden buzzer was more than I ever could have dreamed of.

“Thank you so much @howiemandel I am so happy and can’t thank you enough.”

Courtney will next appear before Simon Cowell, Mel B, Howie Mandel, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum - as well as audiences across the globe - in the live shows, where she’ll be among the acts competing for a million-dollar prize.