Since joining “America’s Got Talent” in 2020 for its 15th season, Sofia Vergara gets one Golden Buzzer moment per season, not counting the recently-introduced Group Golden Buzzer. She chooses the acts to whom she bestows the honor of the golden button seriously and has had one of her Golden Buzzer acts go on to win the talent competition. The honor of her first ever Golden Buzzer moment, which happened on her first day as a judge, belongs to Roberta Battaglia, a 10-year-old singer who confessed to watching “Modern Family” and instantly created a connection with Sofia, who is popular for her role as Gloria in the sitcom.
When Roberta walked onto the set of “America’s Got Talent” (“AGT”) to audition for a spot in its 15th season, she was excited about two things – she would meet her favorite actress from her favorite sitcom, and she’d land a spot as a contestant and showcase her incredible singing talent. She won two judges over instantly; Sofia by raving about her role in “Modern Family”, and Howie by sharing nationality. As soon as Roberta started singing, she won the remaining judges over together with the live audience, television audience, and every person who watched her audition video on YouTube. Here is how that moment and Roberta’s long and successful stint in the competition changed her life.
Roberta describes herself simply as a dynamic, new, and young vocalist. Music is part of Roberta’s heritage since her father, Alessandro Battaglia, an Italian who lives in Canada, is a musician as well. Roberta started singing as soon as she started to speak. By the time she reached three years, she was accompanying her father on his singing gigs. Together, the father-daughter duo has graced charity events, galas, and several events in their community. Roberta is proud of her Italian heritage, and can speak and sing in Italian just as well as she does in English.
Besides singing alongside her father, Roberta has pursued other paths to hone her musical talent and train her voice. She’s worked with an academic singing instructor and sung in several commercial productions. The young vocalist and singing sensation has also participated in some singing competitions, besides “AGT”. She finished second in the CNE Rising Star, and has made several appearances and performances without her father, including at Ideal City. In one of her independent performances, Roberta sang Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” in Toronto’s Breakfast Television, earning millions of views on social media. The positive response to her performance probably influenced her decision to perform the song for her “AGT” audition.
In addition to singing, Roberta is dipping her toe into acting. In 2021, she was picked as one of the main cast of “Three Pines,” a television miniseries that highlights the mistreatment and experiences of the First Nations, who are the largest group of indigenous people in Canada. Roberta plays the role of Crie, a young girl who kills her abusive mother, CC – the show was canceled after its first season. The young vocalist and actress uses her talents to give back to her community. She designs and sells bracelets, and donates all proceeds to help sick children. Her favorite charity is the SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Roberta’s philanthropy is inspired by her passion for making people happy.
Roberta had a successful debut on “AGT” – she won over Sofia instantly, established camaraderie with Howie, had Simon endear her to fans by commenting on her age and size and offering her water, and had Heidi verbally acknowledge how much confidence it took for a 10-year-old to walk onto a stage in front of a large audience and sing. When Roberta sang the first line of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallows,” Simon’s eyes widened at the strength of her voice, and had Sofia closing her eyes to concentrate on the magical voice. When Roberta switched to a high note mid-song, the audience got up in unison and started clapping. The whole time, she was walking around the stage casually while belting out notes that some veteran and older singers struggle to hit and hold. By the time she finished her performance, there was no doubt that she would get four ‘yeses’ and proceed to the next stage. Sofia made sure of this when she pressed the Golden buzzer for the first time ever, sending the Canadian musical prodigy and talented vocalist to the live shows.
After a successful audition, Roberta came back to the stage ready to prove that Sofia was right to bet on her. For her performance in the quarter-finals, Roberta chose Lauren Daigle’s “You Say,” a song that showed off her vocal control and range. After her performance, all judges joined the crowd in giving the young girl a standing ovation. After a beaming Sofia admitted to hoping that Roberta would win the show, it was the turn of guest judge, Kelly Clarkson, who was sitting in for Simon, to comment on the performance. Roberta’s giggle over meeting the beloved singer/songwriter/show host who walked a similar path in her days and won “American Idol” was a reminder to the audience that the singer whose strong voice had reverberated through the hall just a few moments before, was still just a child who was barely a decade old. America listened to Kelly’s call to vote for Roberta, who sailed through to the semi-finals.
Who needs a spotlight when you shine this much? Congratulations to #Brampton’s own, Roberta Battaglia, on making it to the @AGT semi-finals! Incredible performance.👏⭐️ https://t.co/8I9DWnUMOX pic.twitter.com/lEO8n0AV8w
— City of Brampton (@CityBrampton) June 4, 2020
In the semi-finals, Roberta paid homage to one of her favorite singers by performing her song – her rendition of P!nk’s “What about Us” earned Roberta her third standing ovation in the show from the judges and the live audience. Her voice and the creative stage effects transformed a performance of a few minutes into a magical experience that had America voting in huge numbers to send the musical prodigy to the finals. In the finals, Roberta sang the universal self-love and self-acceptance for women – her rendition of Alessi Cara’s “Scars to your Beautiful” was particularly powerful, coming from a young girl who was at the age where children start to develop self-esteem and are more susceptible to societal influences in their looks and appearance. The performance earned Roberta her last standing ovation in “AGT”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to earn her the coveted million dollars and a record deal, as she finished in fourth place, but walked away knowing that she had won the hearts of every person who watched any of her performances in “AGT”, gained millions of new fans, and was headed to a great future in her musical journey.
A White Flag
Roberta may have missed out on the grand prize, but was emboldened to make major steps in her music. In November 2022, Roberta released her first original song entitled “Truce,” a melancholic song, in which Roberta talks about letting go of painful memories and experiences and starting again, by realizing that she’s not bulletproof and waving a white flag. In an interview, she revealed that the song was inspired by painful and hurtful moments in her schooling years, and her desire to rise above them. She hopes that people who listen to the song can realize that everyone experiences pain and hurt, and let it go by calling a truce.
“Truce” is just the beginning for the now 13-year-old vocalist. Since releasing the single, she’s performed in several events, most notably two back-to-back performances in Toronto on 13th and 14th May 2023 to honor all mothers, and a performance on 3rd June in Italy for the Caledon Italian Heritage Day. Now that she’s shown the world that she can write music just as well as she can sing, all eyes are on her as her fans wait to discover more of her talents, and hear more of her music.