America's Got Talent: The Champions Sneak Peek! 10 Acts Reveal What to Expect in Season 2
America’s Got Talent: The Champions is back for season 2!
Ahead of Monday’s premiere, PEOPLE spoke with some of the 40 acts competing for the title of world’s best, including former international Got Talent franchise winners and fan favorites from previous seasons of America’s Got Talent.
The season, which premieres on Jan. 6, features Terry Crews as host. Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel are returning as judges, while newcomer Alesha Dixon, who is also a Britain’s Got Talent judge, will step into Mel B‘s seat as the fourth judge.
From dancers and musicians to singers and magicians, here are 10 acts to look out for in the competition:
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Violinist Brian King Joseph (season 13 of AGT)
“They actually gave me the chance to come to Champions but my body and my health were in a condition of being completely run down,” Joseph, 26, tells PEOPLE about turning down season 1 of Champions due to a nerve disease called peripheral neuropathy.
“I took the time after my season to focus on my health and to get myself in good medical shape. I’m feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I’ve grown into a much stronger person,” he says. “With this stage being where I first made my mark and America accepted me, it changed my life in such a great way to follow my dreams. Coming back is a way to let everyone know that I’m continuing my dreams and I’m fighting for everything that I want, I’m going to get it. I feel a lot of pressure but it’s exciting pressure. Pressure creates diamonds, I want to be that bright shining diamond.”
Singer Connie Talbot (season 1 of Britain’s Got Talent)
Talbot, who also competed on Britain’s Champions version last summer, is looking forward to performing for fans across the pond. “The American audience is much more patriotic and AGT production is so massive,” the BGT finalist, 19, tells PEOPLE. “This time I’m going to be singing my own original songs. I’ve been working on writing my own songs and being my own artist. There’s massive pressure and so much competition.”
Comedian JJ Pantano (season 9 of Australia’s Got Talent)
The 7-year-old teased his standup performance, telling PEOPLE: “I like to talk about the different judges. Simon because he’s the boss and Howie because he’s a comedian.”
Aside from playing Minecraft, watching YouTube videos and “everything to do with the iPad,” Pantano enjoys “making people laugh.” The child comedian says “making people laugh makes me happy so I love doing it. I wanted to come on Champions because I feel like I have some unfinished business. I didn’t win the show in Australia so I’m here to win this show.”
Dancer Emil Rengle (season 8 of Romania’s Got Talent)
“I won Romania’s Got Talent and I feel this is the moment when I’m ready to get to the next level. It’s a competition and I’m here to win it,” Rengle, 29, tells PEOPLE.
Shadow dance group The Silhouettes (season 6 of AGT)
“It’s pretty shocking to us that we were asked. They could’ve picked any shadow company and we were the first shadow company that was ever on,” creative director and founder Lynne Waggoner-Patton tells PEOPLE. “This is a rookie cast, they’ve never been on AGT. It’s like 2011 all over again, but this is more important because this is Champions.”
“We like to tell stories, it’s a beautiful story,” Waggoner-Patton teases of their Champions routine.
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Singing duo Bars & Melody (season 8 of BGT)
“We’ve been focusing a lot on Europe and America is a place where we’ve fallen in love with. Champions has given us this opportunity now,” says rapper Leondre “Bars” Devries and singer Charlie “Melody” Lenehan of their “high energy” performance. “We’re very different people, yin and yang. When we come together to make music, we mix genres.”
Hand balancer/dog act Christian and Percy (season 9 of AGT)
“When I was on the show last time, it was Christian and Scooby. Scooby’s still around but he’s 16. We’re happy to be back now with Percy,” showman Christian Stoinev tells PEOPLE of his new partner. “He was a pup back then and was able to see Scooby do his thing. It’s going to be exciting to see him steal the spotlight and get his own shine.”
These New Years Resolutions won't be broken. See what the new year holds when #AGTChampions returns this MONDAY! pic.twitter.com/OWqKPr9655
— America's Got Talent (@AGT) January 1, 2020
Singing group Voices of Service (season 14 of AGT)
Right off the heels of the last season of AGT, the finalists are returning to the stage for a second go-around. “When you stay ready, you never have to get ready. We were able to rejuvenate and get this again,” member Christal Rheams tells PEOPLE. “I feel like it’s an honor, it’s honorable to be among the best of the best, which means that puts us in the best of the best somewhere. I think we have a formula that works well and it simply relies on our soul and hearts being in it.”
Russian bar Sandou Trio (season 6 of AGT)
“We really felt that it was a very different time period than when we did the show years ago [in 2011],” says Cassie Sandou, who performs with her husband Konstantin and his brother Sergei. “We’re in a great place to come and show what we’ve got, it’s a little redemption.”
On their Champions routine, Sandou teases: “Let me just say it is pretty crazy. It’s something that’s never been done before on Russian bar ever in the world or on America’s Got Talent or any Got Talent franchise. It’s kind of exciting because it’s a stamp of validation because we know who we are and we’re champions on the show.”
Contortionist Strauss Serpent (Africa’s Got Talent)
“I bring emotions into [my performances] instead of just twisting my body,” Serpent explains to PEOPLE. “I want to impress all the judges and audience members.”
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Returning AGT competitors are violinist Tyler Butler-Figeroua (season 14), singer Michael Grimm (season 5), aerialists Duo Transcend (season 13), danger act Spencer Horsman (season 7), comedian Dan Naturman (season 9), mentalist Oz Pearlman (season 10), projection/dance group Freckled Sky (season 10), singer Puddles Pity Party (season 12), singer Mike Yung (season 12), singer/dancer/musician Hans (season 13), comedian Ryan Niemiller (season 14), singer Luke Islam (season 14) and dance group V. Unbeatable (season 14).
Additional acts from Britain’s Got Talent are singing group Collabro (season 1), danger act Ben Blaque (season 10), dance group Boogie Storm (season 10), magician Ben Hart (season 13), magician Marc Spelman and X (seasons 12 & 13), dog act Alexa Lauenberger (Champions) and dance duo Paddy and Nicko (Champions).
Other Got Talent franchise favorites are singer Angelina Jordan (Norway), dance trio Quick Style (Norway), singer Jack Vidgen (Australia), strongman Eddie Williams (Australia), magician Dania Diaz (Spain), hand to hand duo Duo Destiny (Poland), shadow dance group Junior Creative (Myanmar), singer Marcelilot Pomoy (Pilipinas), danger act Miki Dark (Holland) and harmonicist/beatboxer Moses Concas (Italy).
Season 2 of America’s Got Talent: The Champions premieres Jan. 6 on NBC.