HOLLISTER — Brooke Simpson returned to America’s Got Talent stage Tuesday night on NBC and raised the bar in the competition with support from her tribe.
A watch party was held by family, friends and the Haliwa Saponi tribe behind the Haliwa Saponi Tribal School to watch Simpson make her way through the competition, with some in attendance wearing “Our Indigenous Popstar” T-shirts. That slogan comes from Simpson’s audition for AGT. She is Native American, and she told the AGT judges before her audition that she dreams of becoming “the first major indigenous pop star.”
As guests sat watching other performers on the television during the viewing, Simon Cowell, one of the judges known for being brutally honest, said none of the contestants performed better than their auditions.
That is until Simpson, being the seventh contestant in line to perform during the live performances, took the stage to sing “Lost Cause” by Billie Eilish. A clip of Simpson with her tribe in Hollister was shown before her performance.
“As a little girl I feel like I was just born into music, dancing, drumming, singing,” she said in the clip. “It’s the heartbeat of our community.”
Her performance turned heads and had Cowell saying it was her best performance.
“This is you and I really felt your hunger, and it felt like everything was your choice,” he said.
Simpson said she put everything she had into the performance as an artist and thanked all the judges for seeing it.
Her parents, Mike and Jimille Mills, were more than thrilled as they said they were proud of their daughter.
“That’s incredible for Simon to say that because we know Simon tells the truth on how he really feels whether anybody agrees or not,” Jimille said. “So that is pretty incredible. I’m blown away.”
Mike said one of the judges mentioned that Brooke had raised the bar in the competition, which he wholeheartedly agreed.
“I don’t know if the others were nervous, but she somehow managed to get beyond the nerves and say this next 90 seconds can change my life and get me to the next round,” he said. “I believe she’s got an incredible chance to get to that next round and I think she did awesome.”
Chief Ogletree Richardson of the Haliwa Saponi tribe attended the event and said Simpson has done a wonderful job.
“She has certainly brought certain attention to our tribe on the national level,” Richardson said. “We are indeed so proud of her.”
When asked if knowing the support of her tribe helped Brooke’s performance, Jimille said she believed that it did.
“She texted both of us before and asked for us to pray for her and we let her know that we were out here and the people were grouped together,” she said. “So, that actually really fueled her.”
Mike said, “I think it gave her strength and warmed her heart to let her know that family, the home folks, the home team, the tribal community, people from out of town — they have just been comfortable at home in the air conditioning, but we wanted to get together and show our support.”
Simpson will find out if she made it through to the semifinals Wednesday night, which those results will be released after The Herald’s print deadline.