The story of runaway cat Sushi captured the hearts of thousands when Fletcher Oxford made his debut on New Zealand's Got Talent.
The 12-year-old appeared on stage when the show first aired in September. He sang Ronan Keating's When you say nothing at all, which he dedicated to Sushi in the hope she would hear the song and return to him.
On Sunday's show just gone, Fletcher was announced as a finalist. "It's been incredible, really, the best experience ever," Fletcher said from his Oropi home yesterday.
"I wouldn't mind if I didn't win. I'd like to win of course but I think it's just a way to get myself known, to get out there and start my career. "It's more than a career for me, it's what I love doing."
The Tauranga Intermediate student wowed judges and the audience when he performed his self-penned song Everything To Me during Sunday's semifinals.
"I guess when you do your own music you are taking a big risk. People can either love it or hate it but it's better than playing a cover and people saying they love it because of the artist who wrote it. It's better to have them saying they love it 'because that 12-year-old wrote the song'."
Fletcher lists Rod Stewart and Ronan Keating as some of his favourite artists. Australian songbird Delta Goodrem is his latest addition after he met her during filming.
He described her as "stunning".
But behind all of the music and all of the songs is Sushi.
"The most common thing I'm asked is 'has Sushi come home yet?"' Fletcher said.
"Certainly I'm not expecting her to come home. I'm hoping she will. "She's a wild cat. She always had a bit of wild in her heart and as soon as she got a taste of it, she went back," Fletcher said.
When Fletcher was seven, Sushi went missing for four months. Her departure inspired him to write his first song and take part in his school talent quest, where he sang his self-penned song written for Sushi.
"After I sung that song Sushi came home. After four months she heard that song somewhere where she was and she came home."
In every song I sing, something in that song is for her. It might not be entirely for Sushi but there will be something for her. That's why I started singing.
"You can't write a song without a story or inspiration."
Parents Steve and Lynette Oxford said they were very proud of their son, and would gather friends and supporters this Sunday to watch his next performance.
- NZ's Got Talent Fletcher was the most popular act with the voting public after performing an original composition dedicated, once again, to his missing cat, Sushi, in last week's semifinal.
- Twelve acts, as voted for by the public and New Zealand's Got Talent judges Jason Kerrison, Rachel Hunter and Ali Campbell, will take part in the grand final - a two-hour show to be screened on Sunday.
- The grand final will see the acts performing one more time for the judges and the audience at home, who will have until midday Tuesday, November 27, to text vote for their favourite act.
- The winner, determined solely by public votes, will be announced on Sunday, December 2.