11-year-0ld D’Corey Johnson, from Louisville, Kentucky, appeared on the premiere episode NBC’s America’s Got Talent (Season 18) on Tuesday 30 May. How does an 11-year-old get to be on AGT. In D’Corey’s case, he has quite a back story and a fair bit of experience behind him. As is so often the case nowadays, it all started with a viral video.
Louisville Courier Journal reports that when D’Corey was a nine-year-old third grader, he asked his principal, Miss Dunn, if he could sing the National Anthem. She agreed, recorded it, and asked D’Corey’s mother for permission to post it on the Bates Elementary Facebook page. The rest, D’Corey says, is history. Here is his AGT 2023 audition:
Of his song choice, D’Corey explained: “I really love Don’t Stop Believing by Journey but I didn’t know Open Arms or any of the words at all. That song was the AGT producer’s suggestion. I only had five days to learn it.” What makes this all the more impressive is that D’Corey was busy on another show (more on that in a moment) and the way he sings without the backing track when requested by Simon.
Reba says: “When Simon told him to go Acapella, best decision ever and this lil guy killed it!”
Obviously, D’Corey Johnson got four yeses from judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel & Sofia Vergara, so he’ll be going through to the next round. Back when his elementary school rendition of the US National Anthem went viral, D’Corey was interviewed in Louisville by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, who ran the item on the national news. This led to a number of requests for the D’Corey to sing the Anthem, from Daytona 500, NFL games, Churchill Downs racetrack, to the Kentucky Senate:
D’Corey Johnson began singing when he was about three. Despite his tender age, D’Corey has movie credits to his name. He was a featured singer in both Sing 2 and The Loud House Movie.
D’Corey wrote the song Breonna Taylor – about the tragic shooting of 26-year-old Breonna in 2020 during a botched raid by Louisville police. The song was released in 2022.
D’Corey also won a role in Hits: The Musical, executive produced by Dionne Warwick and her son Damon Elliott. The cast of a few over two-dozen singers (from 10 to 22-years-old) was chosen from 7,000 young artists who auditioned. The tour of the popular show began in March 2023 with stops in 48 different cities scheduled. When D’Corey Johnson was given 5 days to learn Open Arms, he was hard at work on Hits: The Musical. “I didn’t have a lot of time, but I practiced every spare minute of the day and I was still working on it the day before the audition in a hotel room in LA.”
D’Corey Johnson says he was happy when Simon asked him to sing without the backing track, as the audience was cheering so loudly the first time, that he wasn’t sure that he was being heard. “After I sang acapella, I was just so happy and overwhelmed with a feeling of gratefulness for this opportunity that the only thing that came over me were tears of joy,” he added. If you would like to see more from D’Corey Johnson, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel.