When the Detroit Youth Choir returns to the America’s Got Talent stage later this month, Oakland University alumna British NiCole Burnett (BM ’06) will be watching.
For nearly two years, she’s served as one of the vocal coaches for the group, which is made of up of young people between the ages of 8 and 18 from throughout the Detroit Metropolitan area.
“Working with these talented children and adults has brought a great deal of joy and fulfillment to my life,” Burnett said. “These amazing youths are each very unique and bring something special to the DYC.”
The choir performed on America’s Got Talent on June 18, and their heartfelt rendition of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” moved Terry Crews, the show’s host, to tears and inspired him to hit the “Golden Buzzer,” which sent the group through to the finals.
“Every man and woman on this stage represents me and where I come from,” said Crews, who was born in Flint, Mich. “I remember sitting at my window, dreaming about wanting to make it and wanting to be here — and they are here.”
It’s a moment Burnett said she will never forget.
“After the performance, I got a call from (DYC Director) Anthony White letting me know that the choir had received the Golden Buzzer,” she said. “I was amazed, relieved, overwhelmed and thankful. I was so appreciative that God allowed this, and so proud of the DYC’s young women and men for giving such a moving performance.”
Burnett said she joined the DYC team in January 2018 — nearly 12 years after graduating from Oakland University with a degree in Music Education.
“I believe that if it were not for the training that I received at Oakland University, I would not have been equipped to do the work in vocal music that led me to this opportunity,” she said. “When I met Anthony White, he brought me onto the team, at that time, because he had previously heard some great things about my work. This work was the result of instruction that was acquired under the leadership of the phenomenal faculty members of OU’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance.”
Burnett said that DYC staff, parents and supporters have been thrilled to watch the choir grow as people and performers.
“It was emotionally impelling that Terry Crews saw the same thing in these children that many of us see and feel when we hear them sing and watch them work during rehearsals an in their performances,” she said.
“Anthony White has been a great inspiration to the DYC students and has led them to see something that many weren’t even planning nor had envisioned in their imaginations. It has been an incredible experience for everyone.”
The DYC will be returning to Los Angeles from August 21-29 and will perform on America’s Got Talent during the show’s quarterfinals on August 27.