Just weeks ago, members of San Diego's Voices of Our City Choir were on top of the world after their audition aired on NBC's "America's Got Talent.' But after stealing America's hearts, the choir members are now heartbroken after the death of their beloved choir co-founder, Nina Deering.
Deering, 34, died Thursday in a car accident in Merced, Calfornia, according to friends who posted tributes on social media and set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses.
The talented keyboardist and vocalist started the Voices of Our City Choir with Steph Johnson, the organization's executive director.
"When we started the choir, Nina was the heart and soul of Voices of Our City," Johnson said in a statement to NBC 7. "Our choir members learned how to sing together because of Nina's direction and musical talent. We are incredibly thankful to have had her influence in our lives, and we would not be the choir we are today without her."
Deering, who stepped away from the choir prior to the America's Got Talent audition, was much-loved throughout the San Diego music community, contributing her time and efforts to projects like Baby Bushka, an eight-piece Kate Bush tribute collective that has performed locally as well as toured in Europe.
Voices of Our City is a unique choir, in that it is dedicated to helping San Diegans who struggle with homelessness. The men and women who help make up the choir credit the organization with giving them a chance to get back on their feet.
The choir's audition on America's Got Talent aired last month, and the judges were so inspired by the music and story that they gave the team the "golden buzzer," catapulting the group directly through to the live portion of the contest.
Although COVID-19 has delayed the show's progress, the choir stands ready to compete when their time comes.
Deering is being remembered as a woman who, through music, gave a voice to those without a voice.