'America's Got Talent' contestant wows judges, gets compared to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

All the high praise turned into an even bigger surprise from one judge in particular.

Gabriel Henrique, a 27-year-old singer from Brazil, performs on America's Got Talent.
Gabriel Henrique, a 27-year-old singer from Brazil, performs on America's Got Talent. (Photo: NBC) ((America's Got Talent YouTube))
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A singer being compared to greats like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey on America’s Got Talent wouldn’t normally be all that surprising, but on Tuesday night that singer was male and his performance left judge Sofia Vergara completely stunned.

The two-hour episode featured the show’s usual assortment of acts, including a handful of talented singers. One of them was Gabriel Henrique, a 27-year-old singer from Brazil, who said via an interpreter that it was “a dream” to be there singing for people in the United States.

Henrique, who appeared to the judges to be nervous in the moments just before his music began, went on to perform a rendition of Houston’s "Run to You." And when his falsetto kicked in for the high notes at one point during the song, it brought the audience to their feet and Vergara’s jaw to the floor.

Everyone in the building was seemingly blown away as Henrique continued to string together the highest of high notes, with his performance earning a standing ovation from both the crowd and the judges at the end.

And speaking of the judges, Heidi Klum was the first to speak to Henrique after the applause finally died down, and gave quite the complementary analogy.

"If Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey had a baby it would be Gabriel," she said. "I mean it’s like, Whitney singing and then it's like, ooooo up here it’s like Mariah singing."

Both Carey and Houston have been known for singing high-note runs in some of their most famous songs through the years, like Carey’s "Emotions" and Houston’s "Run to You" for example, so the comparison was fitting and no doubt felt good for Henrique.

"I love Mariah Carey," he said.

The sometimes hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell was also impressed saying, “People are gonna really like you. You’re just so interesting, I could tell that you’ve sang in church, and you don’t know how good you are. It was amazing.”

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But nobody was more blown away than Vergara, who told Henrique initially that she didn’t "have words" to react to the performance. But it is her job, so she eventually found some.

"That was so perfect, spectacular, your voice is beautiful. Your energy, who you are, it was like perfect," Vergara said. "You are here as a judge waiting for that feeling. And that was what I was waiting for, you know, something very beautiful and very heartfelt.”

At that point the judge put her “buzzer” where her mouth is by hitting the Golden Buzzer, which automatically sends Henrique straight through to the show’s next round, known as the start of the “live shows.”

The singer was greeted onstage with a hug from Vergara, not to mention a boatload of gold confetti. And as they — the people and the confetti — were swept off, Henrique gave his reaction to the moment: "I can’t believe it."

America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.