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LOS ANGELES — An LDS teen from Arizona has made it to the finals on NBC’s America’s Got Talent by singing her heart out every week for her dad, who died of stage 4 cancer Thursday afternoon.
Thirteen-year-old Evie Abplanalp, who goes by Evie Clair, has been singing and playing the piano since she was 2 years old. Her unique voice has captured the heart of America and America’s Got Talent judges this summer, but her biggest fan was her dad, Amos Abplanalp.
Amos was a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a ward in Arizona for only three months when he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in April 2016, according to the Arizona Beehive. His wife Hillary Abplanalp has been documenting his condition and Evie’s reality TV run on her family blog.
The family’s heartbreaking story was thrust into the spotlight in June when Evie first auditioned and sang “Arms” by Christina Perri.
“When my dad is having tough days, I go into his room and I sing him this song to help him feel better and just to give him comfort and strength to continue fighting,” Evie told judge Simon Cowell through tears as she explained her song choice.
Evie’s audition video was viewed millions of times across the internet and the judges sent her through to the first round.
Amos was able to be there for her audition and performances this summer, but his condition quickly deteriorated and doctors said on Tuesday, the day of the semifinals, that he only had days left to live. No longer able to attend her performances, Amos watched them from his hospital bed. Evie played the piano and sang “Yours” by Ella Henderson for her semifinals performance this week, praised by all of the judges.
“Evie, Evie, Evie, I’ve said this before but you are gutsy. You really, really are and let me tell you something: this song is beautiful, your voice is beautiful… You made (this song) your version. Your tone, your pitch was stunning and laid back and let me tell you, your dad is going to be so proud of you,” Cowell said while choking up with tears.
“I think we forget that you’re only 13 years old and you’re already going through so much, so I have to commend you on your courage and your confidence. You know, your voice is beautiful, you look beautiful, and yes, your dad is so, so proud of you,” judge Mel B added.
Amos was placed on life support on Tuesday, right before Evie performed. Evie made the decision with her mom to stay for the results show, but producers made arrangements to send them home immediately following the show rather than the next day as planned.
“We are so thankful to (the show’s producers) for their kindness and understanding,” Hillary wrote on her blog on Wednesday. "Simon isn’t the only one who gets emotional about Evie Clair. Dozens of producers and staff are going through this challenge with us and we love them for that.”
Despite being far away from her dad when she was performing on the show, Hillary says Evie had Amos’ full support in continuing to compete.
“During this process Amos filmed a section of video where he says he isn’t afraid of dying but only afraid of not being there to see his children accomplish their goals. I feel he wants me here tonight for our beautiful daughter. We are both so happy to see her fill the world with light,” Hillary wrote on Tuesday.
Hillary posted on her blog Thursday evening that doctors took Amos off life support and he has passed away.
"We watched him take his last breaths as he continued to breathe for about 15 minutes on his own. The children burst into tears but are now at home laughing at old home movies of daddy and remembering our great love for the most wonderful man any of us have ever known."
Evie will compete in the finals next Tuesday, which will be aired live on NBC at 7 p.m.