MATTOON — An Effingham native, Austin Edwards, with Mattoon family ties and his partner in music have gained a worldwide audience this summer via their performances as the Broken Roots duo on NBC's "America’s Got Talent."
Edwards, which is the stage name for Austin Weinstock, said he and fellow musician Joey Kar from the Chicago area are also honored that audiences in their respective hometowns have been watching their performances and voting for them on the talent show.
"There is no better feeling than to know that the places where we grew up our fighting for us to stay and for our dreams to come true," Edwards said. "Right now, we owe everything we are doing to everyone who voted."
Broken Roots fans will get another opportunity to cast their votes for Edwards and Kar when they perform live during the season finale of "America's Got Talent" Tuesday evening, with the results being broadcast Wednesday night. The show airs at 7 p.m. on the NBC network both nights.
Kar, who has roots in rock music, and Edwards, who has roots in country, began advancing through the various rounds of "America's Got Talent" after their first public performance together on May 26, when they covered Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." The duo was originally eliminated from the competition during the celebrity "judge cuts" round of paring down the competitive field, but were called back after another contestant dropped out due to a personal conflict.
Edwards said they feel blessed to have gotten this second chance to demonstrate their musical abilities on the talent show. He noted that celebrity judge Howie Mandell later inadvertently motivated him and Kar by referring to their Sept. 1 acoustic cover of U2 "I Still Haven't Found What I’m Looking For" as "coffee house music." That performance won Broken Roots the viewers' vote and propelled them on to the semi-finals.
"We took that as a challenge and let (Mandell) throw another log on our fire to bring us up to another level," Edwards said.
Broken Roots then performed a cover of “God’s Country” by Blake Shelton on Sept. 8 on a stage ringed by fire in front of the Bates Motel at Universal Studios Hollywood. They were voted through by the viewing audience and advanced to the finale, where they will vie for for the million dollar grand prize and the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas.
Kar said he has enjoyed becoming friends with the other contestants, although this has been bittersweet as some of them have gone home after being eliminated from competition. The rock musician said he has been fascinated to go behind the scenes and see all the work that goes into creating "America's Got Talent."
"I am enjoying every single moment and every single second we are here," Kar said.
Edwards said "America's Got Talent" has been able to move forward with new episodes when other program have not because this talent show has such a good professional reputation. He said masks, social distancing and many other safety precautions are required on set to protect the health of contestants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After restrictions on large gatherings and travel have eased, Edwards said he and Kar plan to tour and accept invitations they have receive to perform across the United States and overseas. In the meantime, Edwards said they are planning to give their all on the finale performance on "America's Got Talent" with the confidence earned from years of life experience.
"We are old enough to understand you only get one life, you only get opportunities every once in a while," Edwards said.
Viewers can vote online at agt.vote.nbc.com, on the "America’s Got Talent" mobile app, or by calling a toll-free number. Brook Roots past performances are posted on the “America’s Got Talent” YouTube page.
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