Pediatric mental health nurse Michael Ketterer, who got the golden buzzer from Simon Cowell in America’s Got Talent auditions continued to wow throughout the competition – and reduce the usually hard-as-nails Cowell to tears.
This video is of the emotional ballad he performed in the finals, entitled “The Courage to Love”. It was written for him by Garth Brooks in response to a plea from Cowell after the semi-finals. Ketterer took fifth place in the competition which was a surprise to many.
“After the performance, you did tonight, with the song the Garth wrote you […] I believe it will change your life […] You and I are going to continue this relationship. You have been an absolute star throughout,” comforted Cowell. Show host Tyra Banks added “You still have the hearts of all of America, actually globally”. A statement I must agree with after having listened to Ketterer’s songs and read his story.
Ketterer, who lives in Knoxville, is a very special person. He entered the competition to show his six kids, five of whom are adopted “that if Dad can live out his dreams then nothing is impossible.” When asked what message he would want to give viewers he said that he would like to create awareness about pediatric mental health. “What I found out through foster care is there are orphans and kids in need within 12 miles of my home. We talk about transforming our communities and making them better and a huge part of that is going into the foster system. That would be a message I hope people will hear.”
In his work, Ketterer deals with kids who have suffered all severe trauma and abuse and when asked whether he ever sings at work he explained that music was a big part of what he does. “I bring my ukulele with me to work every day. I work in mental health, pediatric mental health, and a lot of times when they’re in crisis, it’s hard for them to put words to what they’re going through,” he said. “I’ve found out that music and melodies help break through that for children. So, a lot of times we’ll write songs together. I help them put on paper what they’re feeling, what they’re thinking.”
Ketterer sang a cover of James Bay’s “Us” in the quarterfinals which reduced Simon Cowell to tears. After Ketterer’s performance of Miley Cyrus’ “When I look at you” during the semi-finals, Cowell sent a shout-out to country star Garth Brooks to write a song for Ketterer to sing in the AGT finals.
Not only did Brooks write a song, but he also invited Ketterer to sing it in front of the 85,000 strong audiences at the sold-out Notre Dame Stadium concert on October 20.