Updated 5:15 p.m.
A one-of-a-kind act is returning to his hometown to take the stage at Radio City Music Hall vying to win $1 million and the heart of a former Spice Girl.Ira, a 32-year-old Astoria native, was one of only seven acts out of 20 to make it to live rounds on Tuesday night’s episode of “America’s Got Talent.”
Along with his soulful voice, the thing that makes Ira stand out from all the other singers and competitors is that he is a puppet. During his performances, the audience never sees the puppeteer.
According to Ira, he grew up in Astoria and lived there for about 29 years before deciding to make the move to Los Angeles with his mother, who wanted to chase her dreams of being a singer. However, the dream then became Ira’s and after just singing as a favorite pastime, he decided to take it to the big stage.
During his initial audition on May 26, Ira chose to sing Joe Cocker’s “You are So Beautiful” and dedicated it to former Spice Girl Mel B, who judges the show together with Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel. However, at the end the singing puppet only managed to get three out of the four judges to give him a yes – excluding Mel B.
For his second performance Ira went back determined to win Mel’s heart but also said he wanted to continue sharing his talent and love with the world.
“Last time Mel turned me down and now this time I get a chance to win her heart, but that’s not the only reason I’m here,” he said during the episode. “After I sang and I saw all the smiles on all the people in the crowd I realized I do have a calling and that’s to sing and make people happy.”
Ira chose to sing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” dedicating the song once again to Mel B, and this time shared the stage with his mother – another puppet – who said the song really was talking about getting ice cream.
After the performance the audience stood up clapping for Ira and this time the former Spice Girl had a change of heart.
“I have to say this time around I definitely want to get it on with you,” Mel B said. Ira told The Courier after the episode that he and Mel are planning an ice cream date.
At the end of Tuesday’s episode, which featured special guest judge singer Michael Bublé, Ira took the stage one last time to hear the judges’ decision that he will be going through to the live rounds that will begin on Aug. 11 at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
Ira said that he is excited to come back to New York City and might event take trip back to Queens to visit some friends and neighbors.
“I’m coming back and saying, ‘Hey Astoria and New York, I’m here and never forgot about you,'” he told The Courier. “I’m just so happy to come back to the Big Apple and show Astoria some love.”
Now that Ira doesn’t have to worry about getting Mel B’s approval, he said for his live performance, in which America’s votes determine who will move on, he will try to appeal to a broader audience and go with a “bigger and flashier number.”