Detroit Youth Choir to perform tonight on America’s Got Talent

Detroit Youth Choir returns for America’s Got Talent finale

Wednesday night is the finale of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. One year ago, the Detroit Youth Choir finished in second place, and this year, the choir returned for an encore performance.

Local 4 got a sneak peek of their performance of the song Believer by Imagine Dragons.

The choir prerecorded its performance in Detroit instead of live in Los Angeles because of COVID-19 restrictions and changes to the show.

“It’s going to be something different,” artistic director Anthony White said. “Something that Americans probably been waiting for to see us again because a lot of people inbox me all the time and ask, 'what do you guys got coming up?” said DYC artistic director Anthony White.

DYC put its own take and meaning to the song.

“Listen to the song how it was originally written, it’s kind of like a darker feel a darker song. They’re really saying that pain makes them a believer, but really the way DYC took it, we wanted to change that up, we didn’t want people watching it and people hearing it to think that we’re a believer because of pain,” said Victoria Hunter, a soprano in the choir. “Though we are in pain, we’re still believers that we can do this, we can change the circumstance and that we know that it’s going to get better.”

“To me it kind of related to everything going by now between the pandemic, racial issues, government issues,” said Malachi Henderson, a tenor in the choir. “You got to believe sometimes for the best of the worst, you have to fight for what’s right.”

Henderson said it also means you have to stand up for that as for yourself and for everybody that is with you.

Shyel White, a soprano in the choir, said the song “means to me that we’re all believers, and we can strive to do anything we put our minds to.”

“Believer is the cherry on, the cherry on the top, you know, we’re still out here grinding working, forming,” White said.

White says Detroit Youth Choir is now made up of three different choirs, developing at different levels.

They also have a home at Marygrove Conservancy.

And while the pandemic has kept them from being together the same way, the choir is still finding ways to perform providing hope and inspiration to their audiences. In July they recorded their version of Glory, the song written by John Legend and Common for the movie Selma. The cover was the choir’s way to show support for social justice.

As for the performance on America’s Got Talent, White said the audience is going to see what the kids look like now, a year after they competed on the show and how much work they have done since. White says 13 members have graduated out of the choir.

“I’m really just so proud of us, because the choir that I joined three or four years ago is totally different now and it’s just only gotten better,” Hunter said.

Hunter said we were just a small choir practicing in a church basement, now they have people coming to them and helping them and giving them rehearsal space.

When DYC returned home from Los Angeles last September after competing on AGT, it received a $1 million endowment fund. It was established at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, providing support to the Detroit Youth Choir in perpetuity. As the endowment grows, grants will allow the organization to serve youth to further its purpose to provide positive youth development including training in vocal performance arts along with mentorship and building life and social skills.

Hunter said the choir has become a strong family and has gotten closer together.

Shyel White said being a part of the Detroit Youth Choir improved her self-confidence.

“I didn’t have confidence in myself, but when I joined DYC I gained confidence,” Shyel White said.

“I’ve gained so much from the experiences,” Henderson said. “I see that it’s a lot of hard work, but the hard work will pay off. I mean besides being in front of a crowd and getting all the attention, it’s not just about that, it’s about doing what you love. It’s not all about the money or all about the fame.”

You can watch America’s Got Talent at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Local 4.

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