VSU choir’s got talent
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Jun 27, 2013, 09:44
ASHLEY MCLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Five members of the Virginia State University’s Gospel Chorale pose with manager Michael Rainey. From left to right: Kris Corey, Kristina Harris, Jasmine Henderson, Denzel Palmer, Eddie Sledge and Rainey.
After what judges pegged as a brilliant and exciting performance, the Virginia State Gospel Chorale heard the news they had been waiting for. They are going to Vegas for a second audition on the NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent.”
The Gospel Chorale traveled to New York City recently to tape their first audition for the show, which aired on Tuesday night.
The Chorale’s business manager, Michael Rainey, had seen a Facebook post about the show seeking gospel choirs. Rainey sent in a tape to the show of the group performing, and received the news about a month later that the producers liked the act, inviting them to travel to New York City to perform in front of the judges.
“When we found out, we were just ecstatic and we knew we had to go that extra mile and put in that much work to just prove ourselves and do our best,” said Chorale member Eddie Sledge.
The group performed in front of four celebrity judges on the show: former supermodel Heidi Klum, radio personality Howard Stern, television star Howie Mandel and member of the music group Spice Girls, Melanie Brown.
On the show, acts of all types perform in front of judges. The acts that performed along with the Chorale on the show included a mime, a magician, a hand balancing act, ballet and other types of dance groups, as well as a variety of other acts. Last year’s winners were the Olate Dogs, a fast-paced dog act, featuring pet tricks.
During the performances, the judges can hit a button, which displays a giant X on the screen. If all four judges do this, the act is over.
If they make it through the performance, the judges decide whether or not the group continues in the competition. Three out of four judges must like the group in order for them to continue on.
“I think we bring something to the table that your average choir doesn’t,” Rainey said to the judges before the group performed.
Being in front of a large audience is nothing new to the group, but the experience in itself gave the group a mix of emotions before they stepped on stage.
“It was like being anxious, excited and nervous all at the same time, but it was well worth it,” said Chorale member Jasmine Henderson.
At the end of the Chorale’s performance, the crowd chanted “Vegas” over and over again, showing their support for the group to move on to the next audition.
“The crowd was very, very receptive of our performance, and I think that made us go the extra mile and push ourselves,” Sledge said.
VSU’s Gospel Chorale received four votes of yes, putting them into the next portion of the competition, which happens in Las Vegas.
“I want to join this gospel choir,” said Mel B after the group performed. “It was brilliant and you were different, it’s not like your average gospel choir and that what I liked about it.”
“I can see this act will be loved by America,” Stern said. “There’s a real excitement in the air when you sing.”
The group received nothing but praises from all four judges, being described as exciting and spectacular.
For the group, this is exactly what they traveled and worked hard to accomplish.
“It was a once in a lifetime event so its like nothing you can ever imagine,” Henderson said of the experience.
Following the New York taping, the group will now travel to Las Vegas for a second performance, which, along with the other acts, will decide whether the group will become finalists and perform on the portion of the show that is aired live. The live show begins the portion where viewers have the power in voting who stays and who goes.
Rainey says this win has pushed the group to up their performance, and strive to be the best as they progress through the competition.
“This is just the beginning of the journey to our dream,” Rainey said.