Jane Marczewski, who captured viewers’ hearts in Season 16 of America’s Got Talent, died on Sunday following a battle with cancer, TMZ reports. She was 31.
“[Marczewski] was such a bright inspirational light in all our lives,” AGT judge Howie Mandel tweeted on Monday. “We must continue to live and learn from her words and lyrics. As much as I feel horribly about her passing I feel lucky to to have met, heard and known her.”
AGT host Terry Crews also posted this statement to Instagram shortly after the news broke: “We are saddened to learn about [Marczewski’s] Passing. Our Condolences goes to her Closest Family & Friends in such of This difficult time. We Love you, Nightbirde.”
Performing under her stage name Nightbirde, Marczewski became an overnight sensation in 2021, earning the Golden Buzzer from judge Simon Cowell with a beautiful performance of “It’s OK,” an original song about her struggles. As she explained, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
Watch video of that powerful performance below:
Visibly moved by the performance, Cowell told Marczewski, “Your voice is stunning. Absolutely stunning.”
Unfortunately, that was the end of her time on AGT. “Since my audition, my health has taken a turn for the worse and the fight with cancer is demanding all of my energy and attention,” Marczewski announced in August 2021. “I am so sad to announce that I won’t be able to continue forward on this season of AGT. Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it—but we knew that already.”
In her final Instagram post last month, Marczewski wrote, “Honestly, things have been pretty brutal. But this is a photo of myself from last week where I felt pretty, and alive, and awake, and human, and real. I needed that. We’re all a little lost and it’s alright.”