If you’ve recognized Courtney Hadwin before, it’s because America’s Got Talent is not her first reality singing competition.
After wowing viewers with her soulful rendition of James Brown‘s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” on Tuesday, the 14-year-old season 13 quarterfinalist faced backlash on social media after fans discovered that the NBC show had not completely disclosed Hadwin’s previous music stints.
Introduced during the AGT auditions as an extremely shy teenager from County Durham, England, Courtney performed Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” before judge Howie Mandel named her his golden buzzer winner.
Turns out, just last year, she made the top six on U.K.’s The Voice Kids, even playing young Cosette in Les Miserables in her home country.
“Courtney Hadwin got pretty far in the Voice kids [but] now she’s a golden buzzer on AGT!?!?! Ummm,” one wrote on Twitter.
“Courtney Hadwin was on Britain’s The Voice Kids last year and Simon was a judge. Why wasn’t that mentioned, especially since it comes up when you google her,” another commented.
“@howiemandel Courtney Hadwin said she’d never performed B4 an audience that big & she & her dad acted like they didn’t know if she could perform cuz she’s so shy. But she was a finalist in The Voice UK! So act is fake! U shudnt B allowed 2 compete if Uve been on other shows!” a viewer tweeted.
Hadwin’s grandfather defended her, telling the Daily Mail: “We always believed she would do well in the U.S.A. We knew they would get it in a way that the U.K. didn’t. We knew she would go down a storm over there.”
Despite the backlash on social media, Hadwin is technically not breaking AGT rules.
“International acts are eligible to participate in the initial AGT auditions on visitor visas. If selected to proceed to the program live shows, AGT works with acts to secure appropriate performer visas which give acts authorization to perform throughout the series,” a spokesperson for the show told Good Housekeeping.
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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