Singing security guard returns Tuesday to ‘America’s Got Talent’

Celina Graves poses for a portrait in a San Marcos music studio.
Celina Graves, an America’s Got Talent contestant from Escondido, poses for portraits at Daniel Bourget’s studio space in San Marcos on June 24th, 2020.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Celina Graves will find out in July 28 episode if judges will move her through to the live competition rounds


Celina Graves, the singing security guard from Escondido who wowed judges on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” TV show in June, will find out in a pre-taped episode tonight if she moves forward to the show’s live competition rounds.

Graves’ emotional vocal audition on the June 9 episode of AGT brought the audience and all four judges to their feet and a video of that performance has since racked up more than 4 million views on Youtube.

In the clip, the 31-year-old employee of Valley View Casino & Resort, explained how she grew up dressing in boys clothes, was mistreated by other girls and feared by business owners for her seemingly tough exterior. But AGT lead judge Simon Cowell told Graves she looks great and she should never let a stylist change her look.

Since that appearance went viral, Graves has picked up more than 50,000 followers on her Instagram page, where she regularly live-casts with fans and posts videos of herself performing.

Filming of season 15 of “America’s Got Talent” has been delayed due to social-distancing orders. The Judge Cuts episodes were filmed without a live studio audience. On tonight’s episode at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, Graves will hear whether she is proceeding to the next phase of the show. She will not be performing in this episode.

NBC officials say live shows are scheduled to begin taping on Aug. 11. Graves said last month that if she does proceed to the competition phase she would like to showcase her additional skills as a musician and dancer.

Graves comes from a musical family. Her grandfather, the late Rev. Edward Graves of Second Baptist Church in Linda Vista, performed for years with his wife in an L.A. singing group. Her father, bassist and singer Ed Graves, has performed for decades in California with Fattburger, NRG and artists including Marva Hines, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion and The Commodores.

Graves is a self-trained singer and musician who started trying out for talent competitions as a teen. She auditioned twice for Fox’s “American Idol” without success. Later, she tried out for several other TV and local vocal competitions, but never won. She had pretty much given up on competing until last fall when talent scouts for AGT saw her videos on Instagram and encouraged her to try out. That opportunity came in early March. Her father drove down from his home in Sacramento to give her a pep talk and cheer her on from a front-row seat in the theater.

To see a video of Graves on AGT, click the link in her Instagram page bio at and for information on “America’s Got Talent,” visit