Newsday: Camp Helen Keller camper Christian Guardino on America’s Got Talent
By Frank Lovece, Newsday | June 14, 2017
Patchogue native Christian Guardino, a teen who experiences vision loss, sang the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night and received a Golden Buzzer from the show’s four judges, guaranteeing the teen tenor a place on the upcoming live shows.
“I mean, what just happened?” Melanie Brown exclaimed after the nervous 16-year-old’s showstopping performance, the last act of the night, which had brought the audience to its feet. “You’re like a bright light that just showed us all!”
“You have an amazing gift. What a voice. Incredible,” Heidi Klum told the Patchogue-Medford High School student. Simon Cowell called him “one of my favorite contestants I’ve seen this year. . . . It’s the best possible feeling when we meet people like you.”
Guardino, whose mother is a nurse and whose dad is “a pizza man,” he said, spent his first 12 years sightless due to a rare retinal disease, Leber congenital amaurosis. Eventually, following innovative research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Scheie Eye Institute, doctors integrated a healthy gene into his eye and he has regained some sight.
A performer since he was 9 years old, Guardino tied for first place in the children’s category at the Apollo Theater’s Super Top Dog amateur night competition in November 2014, and sang at the Apollo’s Holiday Special the following month. He performed the national anthem at a New York Islanders playoff game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in April 2016.
The teen also performed in September 2014 at the Harlem Healthy Soul Festival and a year later at Hip Hop Public Health’s “Health in Key” gala. In January 2016, he sang at the opening-bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange, appearing with Apollo Theater executives in celebration of the venue’s 82nd anniversary.
Guardino had posted an “America’s Got Talent” stock photo on Instagram on May 22, writing, “I am so excited to announce that I auditioned for @AGT! Keep an eye out for me starting May 30th for the season premiere!”