Opportunity has come for 65-year-old Robert Finley to showcase his talents on a national televised stage.

Finley, from Winnsboro, was one of several artists who performed before judges on NBC’s America’s Got Talent Tuesday night. His performance of an original song, “Get It While You Can” was received by standing ovations from audience members and judges.

“When opportunity knocks it is never too late,” Finley said.

Five years ago his love and desire to play music was rebirthed from childhood after a trip to a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.

“I was noticing I was having trouble seeing,” Finley said. “When I went to the VA, the doctor said I was blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other.”

The diagnosis kindled the desire to play music, Finley said.

“Bad sometimes brings out the best,” Finley said. “I started to play music again, and it made me reach inside and find myself.”

Since his return to music Finley has performed in venues throughout the south such as Oxford, Miss. and Wilson, N.C.

Finley’s childhood was far from the bright stage lights of America’s Got Talent. He grew up on a farm the son of a sharecropper. Some of his earliest memories were picking cotton and music.

“We didn’t get to go to school because we started picking cotton at an early age,” Finley said. “Music was the only thing I could get into that I wouldn’t get in trouble about. Every chance I got I played my music.”

At 19, Finley joined the military during the Vietnam War. After completing his tour, Finley returned home and started his family.

“Here it is 50 years later,” Finley said.

America’s Got Talent is a televised talent show competition created by Simon Cowell which premiered in 2006. The program features a variety of participants who possess some form of talents with acts ranging from singing, dancing, comedy, magic, stunts and other genres. Participants who progress in the competition compete against each other for both the judges’ and public votes in order to reach the live finale. At the finale, the winner receives a large cash prize and a chance to headline a Las Vegas show.

Since its inception, America’s Got Talent has kickstarted careers of various performers and has been a rating success for NBC garnering on average some 10 million viewers.

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