UPDATE: Monday, February 21 5:29 p.m. ET
America’s Got Talent released a statement to Us regarding Nightbirde’s death, stating, “Your voice, your story, and your message touched millions. Nightbirde will always be a member of the AGT family. Rest In Peace, Jane.”
The songwriter’s family also confirmed the musician’s passing “after a four year battle with cancer,” saying in a statement: “We, her family, are devastated by her passing and unimaginable loss. Many remember her from America’s Got Talent, where she performed her song ‘It’s OK’ and inspired millions of people around the globe with her messages of faith and never giving up. Those who knew her, enjoyed her larger-than-life personality and sense of humor. She had a witty joke for every occasion — even if the joke was on her. Her lasting legacy will be the gift of hope she gave to so many through her music and the strength she found in Jesus. We thank everyone for their messages of love and support.”
Original story below:
Nightbirde, who appeared on season 16 of America’s Got Talent, died after a long battle with cancer. She was 31.
The singer, whose real name is Jane Marczewski, passed away on Sunday, February 20, according to TMZ.
Host Terry Crews released a statement on Monday, February 21, writing via Instagram, “We are saddened to learn about @_nightbirde’s Passing. Our Condolences goes to her Closest Family & Friends in such of This difficult time. We Love you, Nightbirde.”
That same day, judge Howie Mandel wrote a tribute to the Ohio native, tweeting,”@_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 to have met, heard and known her.”
Heidi Klum shared a photo of the contestant, writing via Instagram Story, “We love you. Rest in Peace.”
America’s Got Talent viewers were introduced to Nightbirde when she appeared on the NBC series in 2021. At the time, the performer opened up about being diagnosed with cancer in her lungs, spine and liver, adding, “I have a two percent chance of survival, but two percent is not zero percent. Two percent is something, and I wish people knew how amazing it is.”
After receiving Simon Cowell‘s Golden Buzzer, Nightbirde announced that she was withdrawing from the series to focus on her health. She later reflected on what it was like to watch the America’s Got Talent season finale after having to hit pause on her participation.
“It’s so hard for me to not be on the @agt stage for the finals this week. I bet you never saw someone win so hard and lose so hard at the same time. This isn’t how the story was supposed to go,” she wrote via Instagram in September 2021. “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 continued: “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. Here we are, you and I, signing off on the risk of REBELLIOUSLY HOPING for better days. Let us not be blind to our own glory. I’m raging and crying and hoping with everyone who needs to rage and cry and hope tonight.”
One month later, Nightbirde revealed that it was “a lot to process” after receiving such a surge in support from fans.
“The highest of highs and lowest of lows in life happening at the same time with all of this playing out in front of millions of people,” Nightbirde, who shared her original song “It’s OK” on the show, told CNN. It’s a lot to carry, but it’s such an honor. The whole world is carrying their own weight and we have to learn to do this together.”
Nightbirde also noted that she was “proud” of the songs that she was creating based on her personal life.
“Pain can be a gift because it really drives you to deep places and to dig more gold. Sometimes you have to dig deep for gold. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m really proud about the stuff I am working on and my voice is getting there,” she said at the time. “Today, I actually sang a lot and even though it’s not to 100 percent, I’m just so happy to be singing and I can’t stop smiling today.”