Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon pressed the golden buzzer during the auditions for a singer who previously had a top 10 hit single with Artful Dodger.
Lifford Shillingford received a standing ovation from the judges and the audience for his performance of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come.
Dixon was so impressed with the 42-year-old that she chose him as her golden buzzer act, sending the south London musician straight through to the show’s live semi-finals.
Shillingford previously sang with garage act Artful Dodger on 2000 single Please Don’t Turn Me On, which peaked at number four in the charts.
During his stint on Britain’s Got Talent, Shillingford revealed that he quit the music industry after suffering with anxiety and depression.
Following his performance, he was hugged on stage by his wife and then by Dixon, who said her former band Mis-Teeq used to perform on the same circuit as Shillingford when he was with Artful Dodger.
Dixon told him: “I feel it takes courage when you are in this industry and you get knocked down, and you then you come back with no ego.
“For you to be on that stage signing, raw, heart and soul on that stage, you deserve this moment.”
Dixon’s words were echoed by fellow judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams.
Shillingford thanked the judges and the audience and described the moment as “surreal” and “amazing”.
Also bagging a place in the next stage of the competition was magician Maddox.
The 31-year-old from Buckingham won approval from all four judges by performing tricks with a Rubik’s Cube.
For his final trick he called Holden to the stage to solve the puzzle behind her back.
The actress described the feat as “a bloody miracle”.
The Cartoon Heroes, a dance group of schoolgirls aged between eight and 10, were also safely through.
They performed a routine with a theme of superheros called Girl Power to a song by Danish pop group Aqua.
The judges praised their performance, with Holden saying: “You’re all so cute I could eat you!”
Fellow judge Walliams joked that he owned similar costumes to the superhero dresses the girls wore on stage.
The panel were shocked by pensioner Barry Newton’s language as he performed grime artist Stormzy’s hit Shut Up.
Reacting to the 82-year-old’s censored performance, Walliams said: “That’s not the sort of language you’d expect the royal family to enjoy.”
Walliams added: “I wrote a book called Gangsta Granny – but you are Gangsta Grandad!”
However, all four judges voted Newton through to the next round of auditions.
Britain’s Got Talent continues on Saturdays at 8pm on ITV.