Where are they now?! OK! catches up with previous winners of America’s Got Talent before the season 9 champion is announced this week.
Bianca Ryan, Season 1
The first-ever AGT champ seemed like a shoo-in for stardom. A sweet 11-year-old with a huge voice, Bianca Ryan’s grown-up version of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” killed it in 2006. But her debut album stiffed, and an acting career went nowhere. Now 20, Bianca is in college and still working on her singing and songwriting career.
Neal E. Boyd, Season 3
He shocked the world—and the judges—with his booming operatic tenor, but plus-size singer Neal E. Boyd hasn’t been able to translate AGT success into a hot music career. Afer his sole album, 2009’s My American Dream bombed, Neal invested most of his AGT prize money in an insurance business, and has recently concentrated on nonmusical pursuits. Now 38, he’s also tried politics, running for a seat in the Missouri statehouse in 2012 and again this year.
Michael Grimm, Season 5
Michael Grimm isn’t a teen idol or a multiplatinum superstar, but he’s turned his AGT win into a long-term career doing what he loves. Michael, 35, has written songs with Barry Manilow, toured with Stevie Nicks and opened for classic rockers Heart—and he’s headlining in Las Vegas this summer. Even better, the blues-rocker kept his on-air promise to marry his girlfriend and use his prize money to build a new home for his grandparents. That’s what we call a winner!
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr, Season 6.
Homeless and working at a car wash when he auditioned in 2011, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., 40, used the show to turn his life around. “I hope to inspire people to never give up,” says the Sinatra-style crooner, whose 2011 album hit number one on the Billboard jazz charts. ￼
Olate Dogs, Season 7
There were no bones about it: In 2012, Olate Dogs were everyone’s favorite act. Today, for Richard Olate and his son Nicholas, who adopted seven rescue dogs and trained them to be acrobats, the beat goes on. The act continues to delight fans at circuses, halftime shows and casinos, and they even recorded a Christmas album last year.
Kenichi, Season 8.
No one has ever seen an act like Kenichi Ebina’s. The charismatic 40-year-old winner of last year’s competition puts together a mashup of dance, mime, martial arts, acrobatics and hip-hop, then mixes in high-tech effects that leave audiences’ mouths agape. Since taking the AGT crown, Kenichi has headlined at casinos, toured universities across the U.S. and even appeared in a special performance in his home country of Japan. Fans can catch his 100-minute “Dance-ish” show at L.A.’s El Camino College. “I still can’t believe I won,” says Kenichi.