Blind singer Kodi Lee, 22, crowned America's Got Talent champion

Paul Simon knows a talent when he hears one.

That is why the singing icon allowed Kodi Lee, 22, to perform Simon And Garfunkel's 1970 hit Bridge Over Troubled Water during the quarter-finals of contest America's Got Talent.

On Wednesday (Sept 18), Lee crossed the final bridge to become the 14th season's champion, netting US$1 million (S$1.38 million) and a chance to headline shows at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from Nov 7 to 10.

Lee, who is blind and has autism, was an early hot favourite to triumph.

He was fast-tracked to appear in the quarter-finals, with the judges, including Simon Cowell and actress Gabrielle Union, gushing over his performance in the audition round.

On Wednesday, the other nine finalists were not a match for Lee.

His win was also a triumph for his mother who spotted his talent early and took efforts to help forge a path for him.

"I realised he's an entertainer. Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you're autistic, it's really hard to do what everybody else does.

"It actually has saved his life playing music," said Ms Tina Lee.

For now, he can mull over how to spend the US$1 million.

"Kodi would love to have a grand piano in every colour possible," his mother confided in a recent interview with Good Housekeeping magazine.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.