A San Diego choir lending a voice to the homeless outmaneuvered several setbacks this year to be among five acts advancing to the semifinal round of NBC's America's Got Talent.
The Voices of Our City choir, which was created to provide a creative outlet for San Diegans experiencing homelessness, received the exciting news on Wednesday's results show that they would be advancing to the second-to-last round of the competition.
"The first act going into the semifinals is ... Voices of Our City choir!" host Terry Crews shouted to four ecstatic choir members on the AGT stage. Other choir members tuned in virtually for the celebration.
The Voices of Our City choir became an instant hit in May when their jaw-dropping audition performance earned them the Golden Buzzer, which advanced the group straight to the live shows.
Tuesday night, they once again wowed the AGT judges with a performance with a welcomed message.
“It brings love, it brings hope -- so much that we need right now," said judge Sophia Vergara of the performance.
But making it back to the stage for Tuesday's performance was difficult. The pandemic stopped the weekly choir practices that serve as a lifeline to many of the homeless members.
“A home-stay order is a home-stay order, but if you don’t have a home or if you’re staying in a shelter, or you’re living in your car, you know, that can be pretty grim,” said choir director Steph Johnson.
There was another devastating setback when the choir's co-founder, Nina Leilani Deering died in a car accident in June. She had stepped away from the organization a couple of years ago but kept in touch.
“She was the music. She loved the music. She loved people,” said Johnson.
Through the hardships, the group found a way to keep going. Donation dollars helped the nonprofit provide laptops to keep members connected and prepared for Tuesday night's performance.
“I think that this experience shows us that dreams come true," said Johnson. "And when you’re serving the greater good and when you’re doing something for a group of people ... all the doors open up."
The Voices of Our City Choir was able to add support services for their homeless members, thanks to the donations raised from their live performances on AGT, according to its biography. The nonprofit group also advocates for homeless issues on several San Diego committees and boards, and helps its members transition from homelessness into safe housing or shelter. For more information, visit here.
America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. PDT on NBC 7.