Representation and acknowledgement are increasingly bigger issues every day, with homelessness, poverty and countless other struggles. This issue has been brought to America’s Got Talent, by a group of singers from Skid Row who are part of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, called ‘Freedom Singers’.
Skid Row is a neighbourhood in Downtown LA that is rife with homelessness and drug use. Back in 2020 the LA Homeless Service Authority claimed there were around 4,662 people living on the streets of Skid Row, which is over half of the population.
The ‘Freedom Singers’ goal is to bring people together through music and raise awareness to the problems faced on the streets and let people build themselves back up. They use the feeling of Baptist a cappella church singing with modern popular songs to spread their message. One of the male singers said, “Freedom Singing brings us close together; it is that medium that we’ve always used to come together as America.”
Micayla De Ette one of the singers and director of the group came across the group through the ‘Kellyoke Search’ on the Kelly Clarkson show. For their audition they sang “Under The Bridge” by Los Angeles band ‘The Red Hot Chili Peppers’. The song was written as a poem by Anthony Kiedis, while suffering with the struggles and sense of loneliness he felt from his drug addiction.
The message of the song still resonates today with the experiences of each member of the ‘Freedom Singers’ only adding to that, but now for the performance itself. The YouTube highlight of this audition is titled “Terry Crews is brought to TEARS by Freedom Singers” which gives you an indication of just how impactful this audition was. The episode aired on the 20th of June 2023 and as of the 8th of July 2023 the clip has over 1.2 million views.
This eight-person group harmonises beautifully together and their presence on stage simply oozes the connection they all have with each-other and in little over 60 seconds the whole crowd is clicking their fingers and clapping along with them. De Ette is clearly the main vocalist here hitting multiple powerful and clean sections and having a solo singing career with her new song “When the Party’s over”.
Even the historically critical Simon Cowell had not one bad word to say about the act and audition. Cowell said “the performance was brilliant, it was raw, it was real, I love the vocals, I love the chemistry, I love your friendship. It was a really special audition, I loved it.”
America’s Got Talent Judge Howie Mandel said “this was more than just a song, more than an audition it was needed.” The group got through with four yess and a theatre and home audience of informed and inspired people. If you want to see more from Freedom Singers you can follow them on Instagram. To hear more of Micayla De Ette’s goosebump-giving vocals go to Instagram here. For more information about the Los Angeles Community Action Network click here.