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When “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews looked at the Detroit Youth Choir, he saw himself.
The community-based group, led by Choir Director Anthony White, is composed of dozens of inner-city schoolchildren looking for a safe space to express themselves through music and dance.
Fighting back tears, Crews said, “Every man and woman on this stage represents me and where I came from. I remember sitting at my window in Flint, Michigan, dreaming about wanting to make it and wanting to be here – and they are here.”
The Detroit Youth Choir performed a high-energy rendition of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” surprisingly merging classic choir notes with rapping and upbeat choreography.
They received a standing ovation and – like the song lyrics say – the ceiling couldn’t hold the rowdy applause. Newcomer judge Julianne Hough said, “It starts with the people, and you guys came together and created something that was traditional choir and you … made it fresh.”
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An emotional Crews credited people like White with helping him reach his own success.
“Let me tell you something, Mr. White. All it takes is one person to believe in a young man or woman for them to reach their dreams, and you are that man, sir!” Crews said as he hit the golden buzzer, sending confetti all over the stage and dozens of schoolchildren jumping in excitement.
White, who has been a director for the youth group for more than 21 years, explained that the choir offers the children an alternative to “bad home situations,” “violence” or being “in the streets.”
“We give them something positive to come and be a part of,” White said. “We’re here to let everyone know we have some wonderful young people in the city of Detroit.”
The Detroit Youth Choir brought down the house with their “America’s Got Talent” audition. (Photo: Trae Patton/NBC)
Judge Howie Mandel declared, “This was your moment.”
“The dancing and the singing and rapping is so much more than you would expect from a choir. I love you,” he said, while Gabrielle Union added: “What we all witnessed here tonight is nothing short of absolute brilliance.”
A choir has never won “America’s Got Talent” in 13 seasons, but could that change? Simon Cowell seems to think so. “If you keep doing this, where every performance is the last thing you would expect a choir to do, you could win this.”
White agreed, adding that the Detroit Youth Choir “could be the first.”
Auditions continue June 25 on NBC (8 EDT/PDT).
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