It is easy to get jaded by television talent shows. The shows have a formula and while many of the contestants are talented enough, a fair number are just not to your taste. Then there is the occasional special performance that is impeccable, unexpected, and would not be heard were it not for the talent show franchises popularised by Simon Cowell.
The appearance of Putri Ariani, 17, on the audition round of America’s Got Talent on 6 June 2023 was special for a number of reasons. Putri is from Indonesia, and her trip to the US to appear on AGT is her first visit; without AGT we might never have heard of her – or heard her. And yes, her voice definitely deserves to be heard.
What an audition! I don’t think I’ve seen so many audience members shed tears on a tv talent show. Putri is blind, and she sees her appearance on AGT as a stepping stone to her dream of going to college at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. So there was an emotional response to her circumstances in the reaction from the judges and the audience. Mostly, however, the emotions came from the sheer quality of her performance. Simon so loved Putri’s first song that he asked for an encore.
For her encore, Putri dedicated Elton John’s Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word to Simon. The biggest surprise was when Putri revealed that she had written the first song of her performance. It sounded like a classic song that had slipped people’s minds or a great song from a major artist that one had somehow missed. This is one occasion when few people will dispute that an artist deserves to get the golden buzzer. Here is Tak Mampu Lupa, Putri’s Indonesian interpretation of a Mandarin song:
Tak Mampu Lupa has 12M views on YouTube in less than a year. In Indonesia, Putri Ariani came to public attention when she won Indonesia’s Got Talent 2014 at the age of 8. Putri was a finalist on The Voice Kids Indonesia, 2016, aged 10. Two years later, when Indonesia hosted the 2018 Asian Para Sports, Putri sang Song Of Victory during the opening ceremony. She has a YouTube channel on which she releases singles & live performances, and she also features on the Go Music Group channel.
Putri is a self-taught singer and musician (she plays the piano, guitar, and flute). Her appearance on AGT was so impressive that Putri is already a favourite to win. The US Sun ran the following headline about Putri Ariani on 9 June 2023: “AGT fans are convinced contestants with jaw-dropping talent will ‘definitely’ win despite being only 2 weeks into season.”
On AGT, before she sang, Putri said: “My biggest challenge is people look at me just as a blind person, not as a musician. But when I’m singing, I feel like I’m a superstar.”
Whatever happens on AGT, let us hope that Putri Ariani gets to study at the Julliard School of Music. If you would like to see more from Putri Ariani, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel. You can also visit her official website for more information.