AGT 2023: Mzansi Youth Choir Nightbirde Tribute Makes History

America's Got Talent 2023 Mzansi Youth Choir Golden Buzzer
Pictured: Mzansi Youth Choir — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

America’s Got Talent 2023: Mzansi Youth Choir Remembers Nightbirde and Earns Historic Audience Golden Buzzer

America’s Got Talent Season 18 kicked off with a group of diverse acts that included singers, acrobats, comedians, and more. The episode was solid, but didn’t wow me until the final act of the night, the Mzansi Youth Choir from Johannesburg South Africa, came out and earned a historic first, an audience golden buzzer. That act was the Mzansi Youth Choir from Johannesburg, South Africa. (Read our Recap)

The group formed 20 years ago. One member explained that the founders were carjacked by young people, so “they saw this as an opportunity to change young lives.” They entered due to it being the “biggest” talent show in the world, and it “has the power to inspire and give hope to the people.”

Mzansi Youth Choir sing Nightbirde’s “It’s OK”

America's Got Talent 2023 Mzansi Youth Choir
Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara Mzansi Youth Choir, Heidi Klum, Terry Crews, Simon Cowell — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Without introducing the song, the group begins singing and it quickly becomes clear that the song is a cover of Nightbirde’s “It’s OK.” For reference, Nightbirde (Season 16 golden buzzer) passed away in February of 2021 from a long battle with cancer. After Simon Cowell chose her as his Golden Buzzer, she had to drop out of AGT before the live shows due to worsening health. She continued to share her wise words and spirit through social media. Her audition remains one of the most empowering and memorable auditions I’ve ever seen.

The performance kicks off with a strong poppy solo. The harmonies are tasteful and have passion and energy behind them. The thing that I love about this choir is they really know how to build dynamics. Often choirs can be too loud and muddled but this one remained very balanced. The group’s choreography and arrangement is a whole experience. The lines, “I said I knew what I wanted but I guess I lied” built up to a climax and this part was a moment. It ended with sheer power that overwhelmed me with emotions and chills by the end of the audition. They did Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski justice. This was a beautiful moment showing the lasting mark that Nightbirde left on the world.

When the choir recorded Nightbirde’s song, she reached out to them

As it wraps up and the judges and audience give the group a Standing ovation, host Terry Crews remarks, “what a wonderful tribute to a beautiful person.” Simon is speechless. Heidi Klum notes that they lost Nightbirde and says about “It’s OK,” that “it has a very special meaning in my heart,” calling the performance “beautiful.” Sofia Vergara calls it “the perfect AGT audition.” Howie Mandel says about Nightbirde’s impact, “to see it touched people on the other side of globe, it’s unbelievable.”

When Simon asks why they sang that song, the group responds, “when we heard Nightbirde sing this song on this stage, we were very inspired and touched by her story that we decided to record the song”. Nightbirde responded which surprised the group. They call the “It’s OK” a “pillar of strength.”

Simon Cowell cries after the choir’s touching tribute. AGT Awards the group the first Audience Golden Buzzer

America's Got Talent 2023
Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Terry Crews, Sofia Vergara, Simon Cowell — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Simon is full of emotions and has a hard time putting his thoughts together. With tears in his eyes, he says, “I know how much this would’ve meant to her. Right until the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music.” He calls the performance a “breathtaking” tribute. The audience chants Golden Buzzer! Simon notes they’ve never done this before, but he and the judges decide to give them an all-new audience golden buzzer!

Mzansi Youth Choir was the true standout of the night, but comedian Orlando Leyba was interesting and shadow puppet act Shadow Ace had a unique act that left me intrigued. The other two acts who showed potential and could possibly go far were fiddle player Philip Bowen who was flat out talented and child singer D’Corey Johnson who truly shined when he went acapella.

About Blake Busch 279 Articles
I am a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in marketing and minor in data analytics. My favorite shows to follow are American Idol and The Voice. I also love crime thrillers, Top Chef, and Masterchef. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing basketball, and watching sports.