Christian singer who won the Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell dies of cancer aged 31

Nightbirde on stage with Simon Cowell after he awarded her the Golden Buzzer.(Photo: NBC)

A talented Christian singer who captured hearts across America with her faith and courage in the face of terminal cancer has died aged 31.

Nightbirde, real name Jane Marczewski, was a contestant on the 2021 season of "America's Got Talent". 

She impressed the judges with her own song "It's OK", which won the Golden Buzzer from an emotional Simon Cowell, allowing her to fastrack straight to the live shows. 

In a moving appearance on AGT that has been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube, she was asked about her cancer and told the judges to much applause, "It's important that everybody knows I'm so much more than the bad things that have happened to me." 

The Liberty University graduate added later, "You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy."

She received a standing ovation from the audience and all four judges, but in a tragic turn of events, she was forced to withdraw from the competition just weeks later because of her declining health. 

In an Instagram post, she wrote about how she was still believing in God even though it wasn't always easy.

"I spend a lot of time squeezing my eyes shut and trying to remember what I believe; counting my breaths in the grief cloud; burying my face into God's t-shirt," she said. 

"I remind Him sometimes, (and not kindly) that I believed Him when He told me the story He wrote for me is good, and that He never stops thinking of me. I must be a fool in love, because even from under all this debris, I still believe Him.

"And when I'm too angry to ask Him to sit on my bed until I fall asleep, He still stays."

In a statement to People Magazine, her family said she had died on 19 February. 

"Her lasting legacy will be the gift of hope she gave to so many through her music and the strength she found in Jesus," they said. 

Cowell said the news of her death was "heartbreaking".

"She was an extraordinary person, so brave, so talented," he tweeted. 

"She made a huge impact on AGT and the world. Her determination to fight this terrible illness was remarkable.

"Rest in peace, Jane. I am sending my love to her family. Simon."

Another AGT judge, Howie Mandel, paid tribute on Twitter, writing, "@_nightbirde was such a bright inspirational light in all our lives. We must continue to live and learn from her words and lyrics. As much as I feel horribly about her passing I feel lucky to have met, heard and known her." 

Fellow judge judge Sofia Vergara said, "Rest in power @_nightbirde. We lost a shining star today you were a true inspiration to all. Sending so much love to all of Nightbirde's family and friends. She was something special."