PITY the "America's Got Talent" fools as judges hoaxed by ringer Marty Brown, who was no amateur. 

IN an outrageous hoax, scheming “America’s Got Talent” producers pulled the wool over the eyes of the audience and judges on its season premiere by presenting a country star from the 1990s as an amateur contestant. Marty Brown knocked ’em dead with his performance of Garth Brooks’ “To Make You Feel My Love,” but it was never revealed that the 47-year-old singer had released three well-received albums on MCA records beginning in 1990.

Brown even performed at the Grand Ole Opry – home to the greatest country stars – and was a frequent guest on Nashville legend Ralph Emery’s TV talk show. What’s more, the multitalented performer also wrote the title song on Tracy Byrd’s album “I’m From the Country,” which soared to No. 3 on the charts in 1998.

“PRESENTING Marty as an unknown on ‘America’s Got Talent’ was dishonest at best, a complete farce at worst,” an insider told The ENQUIRER. “The show is fighting for ratings in its eighth season, so they put on a ringer and kept the audience and judges in the dark.”

Brown was introduced on the June 4 premiere as a Kentucky carpenter who sang to entertain his family. He earned a standing ovation, prompting his wife Shellie to burst into tears of joy as she watched from the wings.

Afterward, judge Heidi Klum asked Shellie to take the stage, and she told the audience: “We sing around the kitchen table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I said, ‘Honey, it’s time for you to show the world.’ But I had to trick him (into auditioning).” She claimed she secretly put his guitar into the car trunk and it wasn’t until Marty asked where they were headed that she gave him the surprise of his life, telling him: “We’re going to do ‘America’s Got Talent.’”

Judges Klum, Howard Stern, Mel B and Howie Mandel were apparently taken in by the underhanded hoax as Stern told the singer: “You’re a great undiscovered treasure – the only question I have is where have you been?”

An ENQUIRER investigation answers that question, and he’s certainly not a new discovery!

When Brown first hit the Nashville music scene, he was hailed as the second coming of Hank Williams Sr. and often compared to his fellow Kentuckian, country superstar Dwight Yoakam. Critics raved about his albums, and the videos for his songs “Every Now and Then” and “It Must Be the Rain” aired frequently on TNN. But he never scored a No. 1 hit, and that led to his downfall.

“It really ate away at Marty,” said a friend. “He grew very bitter. He had a busted marriage, drank way too much and got in trouble.”

In 1997, Brown finally hit rock bottom. “Eventually the bigwigs didn’t want to deal with him any longer,” revealed a close source.

“But for ‘America’s Got Talent’ to pretend like he’s a complete nobody – heck, Marty’s better known than 99 percent of the people who come to Nashville with dreams of becoming a star.”