VSU chorus to perform again on NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Aug 16, 2013, 14:45
America will be watching and voting Tuesday as top acts from around the country sing, dance, and perform their talents on NBC’s show America’s Got Talent. Included in these performers is a group that calls Petersburg home, the Virginia State University Gospel Chorale.
After sending in an audition tape to the show, the group got called back to perform an audition in front of four celebrity judges.
Their first performance in front of the judges blew the four celebrities away, and the group received praise even from radio shock jock Howard Stern.
“It felt really good, especially from Stern,” said member Bernard Walker. “For him to say it made him want to go to church made me think, ‘Wow, we’ve done our job here.’”
The group then traveled to Vegas for a second audition, which they didn’t even perform for. The judges had already decided they were moving on to the next step in the competition: performing on live television at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
“We went to Vegas and we were part of the immediate decision group, which meant that our audition was so superior we didn’t have to perform again in Vegas,” said Michael Rainey, the group’s business manager. “There was this wow factor, like we were really that good, they thought we were that good that we could go straight on to Radio City without any more performance.”
The group is now one of 60 acts that will perform in the quarterfinals of the competition. At this stage, each performer gets the chance to showcase their talent for 90 seconds. Following the airing of this show on Tuesdays, the viewers in America get to call in and vote for their favorite act. The winners are announced on the Wednesday night portion of the show.
If they go all the way, the group will receive $1 million as their prize.
The amount of support from the surrounding community has been overwhelming. Petersburg has put up construction signs congratulating the group. Members walk into stores and are recognized and asked for autographs.
“The outpour of love from the community, as well as the school, has just been amazing,” Rainey said.
Walker said that on the night the first performance aired, the support was overwhelming.
“I had more 280 texts, and some didn’t even go through; and the phone was ringing until 5 in the morning,” he said.
For now, the group is rehearsing, both music and choreography, in order to make their performance one that shines. The group is full of excitement to perform on a stage that has been graced by so many stars.
“Radio City is very exciting for us because of the fact that it’s a place where living legends have performed, and some of the big stars have performed there, and now we get to,” said James Holden Jr., the group’s director and faculty advisor.
The show will air on Tuesday, August 20, from 9 to 11 p.m. Voting for the night begins after the end of the show.
While the group prepares to perform live on national television, they still remain in awe of their success, thanking the community for all of its support and love along their path to make this dream a reality.
“If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t be the same,” Rainey said. “Knowing that we have people supporting us and cheering us on, it makes you feel good.”