Been charmed by the Detroit Youth Choir on America’s Got Talent this season? You’re hardly alone.
Millions of voters caught up by the effervescent performances of the 62-member troupe — not to mention AGT host Terry Crews and the judges (Simon Cowell called them “bloody fantastic”) — have vaulted the DYC into the NBC show’s finals, taking place Tuesday (Sept. 17) night with results announced on Wednesday (Sept. 18). It’s a musical feel-good story that’s brought Detroit’s return from bankruptcy just six years ago onto a national stage: Even the Spirit of Detroit statue by City Hall is decked out in purple, the DYC’s preferred color.
And it sounds pretty good, too.
The DYC has dazzled so far with performances of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” Carrie Underwood’s “The Champion” and Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.” What are they bringing for the Big Game? We can’t tell you — because, er, they won’t tell us. But as we get ready to tune in to see, here are some things we can tell you about the DYC.
The DYC is part of the Detroit Youth Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to offer youth in the Metropolitan Detroit area (ages 8-18) a world-class performing arts experience that develops creative skills and talents through music, education dance and theatrical arts.”
This is actually the second DYC choir’s second run at AGT. The troupe auditioned during 2017 in Cincinnati and wasn’t chosen but tried again when auditions were held earlier this year in Detroit. Choir director Anthony White, whose 10-year-old daughter is part of the DYC, tells Billboard that the choir lost only about a half-dozen members from the original ensemble. “A few years ago we had the best choir, possibly, in the city of Detroit and we did not make the cut with America’s Got Talent,” White says. “The choir that everybody sees now is the choir I personally built the next year, after we didn’t make it. So the world is seeing a true product of the city of Detroit, true-hearted kids that really believe in hard work and dedication. I believe this is the best choir that our organization has had in our 23-year history.”
During its stay in Los Angeles the DYC attended the ceremony dedicating Detroit-born Jackie Wilson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sept. 4. “That was an eye-opening experience for our young people because one day I believe their stars could be on the Walk of Fame,” White says. “Jackie Wilson’s daughter actually called me and said, ‘Mr. White, can I come over to the hotel and hear the kids sing?’ We have a rendition of ‘Higher and Higher’ that her father did, and we sang it for her live and she was just moved to tears.”
Because of its AGT commitments, the DYC had to cancel a planned halftime performance at the Detroit Lions’ game this past Sunday. But the group has been booked for the 93rd America’s Thanksgiving Parade on Nov. 28 in Detroit and will also perform at the annual Hob Nobble Gobble fundraiser for the parade seven days earlier. And White hopes the DYC will be introduced as AGT champions at both events. “Let’s put it like this; we feel like the 2004 (NBA Champion Detroit) Pistons with Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, how there weren’t any superstars on that team. We don’t have any superstars in our choir. Everybody is on the same level. We’re a team, and we feel like we can bring the championship home. We just need those votes.”
For more information on the Detroit Youth Choir, visit www.detroityouthchoir.org.