10-Year Old Guitarist Maya Neelakantan SHREDS To Papa Roach On America’s Got Talent

Maya Neelakantan’s audition on the 19th season of America’s Got Talent earned her the title of “Rock Goddess” from Simon Cowell, and a viral video that’s hit over 1M views in just one day online!

This 10-year-old guitarist had traveled all the way from India to appear on the AGT stage. For this epically unusual audition, Maya appeared on stage in a traditionally-styled, peach-pink Indian dress, demonstrating her intricate guitar skills with an Indian classical Carnatic riff, magically making her instrument sound more like a sitar than a guitar.

But in a move that caught the entire audience off-guard, Maya began headbanging, breaking into the lead riff of “Last Resort” by nu-metal legends, Papa Roach, and stirring the audience to her mayhem. Then, after perfecting the classic riff, Maya shredded a solo like a pro guitarist, without a single pitch out of place.

Maya’s solo was the definition of insane; even judge Sofia Vergara looked to her fellow judges open-mouthed to see Howie banging his fists on the panel in time to the beat. Maya’s parents and younger sibling watched on from the sidelines, evidently proud and wiping tears from their eyes.

Sofia praised Maya’s energy and confidence, calling this unexpectedly awesome performance “a perfect audition.” But Howie Mandell wanted to scratch below the surface, asking the 10-year-old about her music inspirations and discovering her heroes are heavy/thrash metal legends, Adam Jones from TOOL and Gary Holt from Exodus and Slayer.

After Simon Cowell shared an anecdote about trying and failing to learn the instrument at around the same age as Maya, the instant AGT legend left the stage with four out of four Yes votes from the judges, sending her through to the next round of the show.

Maya’s Instagram is just as amazing as her audition. After posting a myriad of heavy metal covers stretching back to 2022, Maya’s 2024 trip to the US has introduced her to countless metal superstars and guitarists of the scene. Now 11 years old, Maya’s really living the dream most metal musicians can only dream of — meeting her heroes Eric Peterson and Alex Kolnick of Testament, Danny Carey of TOOL, and even being gifted a signed guitar by Exodus/Slayer’s Gary Holt. Even more amazingly, this girl has a passion for Gibson guitars (the cream of the crop when it comes to guitar brands) and has even jammed with Gibson CEO, Cesar Gueikian, in the Nashville Gibson Garage! If you would like to hear more from this talented guitarist you can subscribe to their YouTube Channel or follow them on Instagram for more incredible music.

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