The latest season of America’s Got Talent has returned with a powerful display of talent and emotion. One standout performance came from the Mzansi Youth Choir, an ensemble from South Africa, who paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski, a former contestant on AGT who captured hearts with her original song “It’s OK.”
Nightbirde’s story was one of courage and resilience, as she battled cancer with a 2% chance of survival. Her stunning performance earned her a golden buzzer and a standing ovation from the judges. Tragically, Nightbirde passed away at the age of 31 in 2022, but her legacy lives on. Watch their fantastic and emotional performance in the video below.
The Mzansi Youth Choir, hailing from Soweto, Johannesburg, chose to honor Nightbirde’s memory by covering her poignant song. Their performance on the AGT stage left the audience and judges in tears. Heidi Klum, one of the judges, expressed her appreciation, saying, “For anyone who doesn’t know, we lost a very, very special person from our AGT family. Her name was Jane. Her nickname was Nightbirde, and she sang this song. It was really beautiful. Thank you.”
Sofia Vergara, another judge, described their rendition as the “perfect AGT audition.” Howie Mandel was moved by the performance and acknowledged Nightbirde’s impact, saying, “I’ll always remember Nightbirde. And to see that it touched people on the other side of the globe is unbelievable. You deserve so much more than a yes. And to be here, you deserve a thank-you.”
The emotional tribute brought Simon Cowell, a judge known for his straightforward demeanor, to tears. Cowell, wiping tears from his face, shared, “This brought back so many memories for me. I know how much this would have meant to her. Right to the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music… you’ve come back here with the most amazing tribute. It was perfect.”
The Mzansi Youth Choir’s performance struck a chord not only with the judges but also with the audience worldwide. Their powerful rendition earned them the coveted Golden Buzzer, making history as the first-ever group to receive this honor on AGT. Terry Crews, the show’s host, joined the judges on stage to press the Golden Buzzer together, showering the choir in golden confetti.
Explaining their song choice, one of the girls in the choir shared, “When we heard Nightbirde sing that song on this stage, we were very inspired and touched by her story that we decided to record the song. To our surprise, she responded so beautifully. This song has been such a pillar of strength for us as a choir through difficult times. We just want to continue her legacy, that’s why we chose that song.”
The Mzansi Youth Choir’s golden buzzer win automatically advanced them to the semi-finals, which will take place in August 2023. The choir’s artistic director and choreographer, Alfred Phakathi, expressed their immense pride and gratitude, stating, “This was an incredible experience for the choir members who work very hard and finally handled that pressure with such grace… It was an immeasurable experience for each of them and also for their proud families at home.”
The Mzansi Youth Choir’s touching tribute to Nightbirde on America’s Got Talent has left an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers worldwide. Their emotional performance and the Golden Buzzer win serve as a testament to the enduring power of music and the legacy of a remarkable artist. If you would like to see more from this talented youth choir, you can subscribe to them on YouTube.