A British schoolgirl has won a place in the quarterfinals of America's Got Talent after wowing judges with her stunning audition.

Courtney Hadwin, 13, from Hesleden, in County Durham, received a standing ovation from all four judges for her stirring rendition of Otis Redding's Hard to Handle on Tuesday night's programme.

Judge Howie Mandel was so impressed he hit the "golden buzzer", fast-tracking Courtney to the live shows and ensuring she remains in the running for the $1million prize, the Daily Mail reports.

The teenager is no stranger to talent competitions, having narrowly missed out on the top prize on The Voice Kids UK last year.

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A family member revealed to the MailOnline that Courtney chose to enter the American version of the show rather than Britain's Got Talent because the "UK doesn't get her" and they are "confident she will do well in the US".

Courtney Hadwin, 13, won herself a place in the America's Got Talent live shows after impressing judges with her audition. Photo / NBC
Courtney Hadwin, 13, won herself a place in the America's Got Talent live shows after impressing judges with her audition. Photo / NBC

But unlike many budding stars Courntey is not a show-off when she is away from the spotlight. Indeed her own grandfather describes her as "painfully shy".

Courtney, a student at The Academy at Shotton Hall, in Peterlee, has been performing locally since primary school but first made headlines when a video of her singing during a lunchtime open mic session went viral.

She is supported in her singing by her mother Annmarie and father Paul, who have sent her to lessons to help train her voice. She is an older sister to Paul and Melanie.

In a 2016 interview, Mrs Hadwin described how her daughter, then just in primary school, worked tirelessly on her voice.

She said: "She comes in from school, does her homework and then she practises singing every night."

Speaking to FEMAIL today, neighbour Lesley Creamer told how she hears the talented teenager "singing through the walls".

She added: "She doesn't really speak but when she sings, you can really hear her."

Courtney's quiet nature was apparent when she stepped on stage to audition in the packed auditorium during a trip to Los Angeles earlier this year.

Judges Heidi Klum and Mel B were left in awe of Courtney's commanding performance. Photo / NBC
Judges Heidi Klum and Mel B were left in awe of Courtney's commanding performance. Photo / NBC

She was reassured by judge and former Spice Girl Mel B, who said: "I know this is a big stage with lots of people here but you're here for a reason so go for it and good luck."

As the music started, Courtney's nerves disappeared and she launched into a confident performance of Redding's 1968 hit, complete with enthusiastic dance moves befitting of a fully-fledged rocker.

Host Tyra Banks, who was watching from the wings with Mr Hadwin, was left in awe of the performance.

The transformation stunned judge Simon Cowell, who said: "Bloody hell Courtney.

"You were this shy little thing when you came out. Then you sing and you're like a lion. I mean, genuinely incredible."

But it was comedian and actor Mandel who sealed her fate.

The judge compared the 13-year-old to Janis Joplin, who won a record deal as a youngster at a festival.

Though he couldn't offer a record deal, he said the best he could do for Courtney was to press the Golden Buzzer, parachuting her straight to the live show.

"You are not from this era. You're from a whole different era," he said.

Each judge can only use the Golden Buzzer for one act during the audition stages, so the Canadian was clearly overwhelmed by the teenager's talent.

Courtney was joined on stage by her father, who hugged her as she wiped back tears. Mandel and presenter Banks later joined the singer on stage.

Courtney later posted on Twitter: "I didn't know what to expect when I auditioned for @AGT but the golden buzzer was more than I ever could have dreamed of. Thank you so much @howiemandel I am so happy and can't thank you enough xx."

The 13-year-old will now appear before the judges on the live shows, where audiences will play a role in deciding whether she takes home the $1million prize.

Courtney and Mr Hadwin are believed to have travelled to Los Angeles for the auditions earlier this year. It is thought they will return to the US for the live shows.