teens sitting down
A group of teens from the Detroit Youth Choir perform “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer” during a March 14, 2023, rehearsal of the play, “Once On This Island” Tuesday at Marygrove College. The troupe will perform Sunday at Orchestra Hall. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

On a Tuesday night inside Marygrove College, members of the Detroit Youth Choir were hard at work. 

The small group of teens gathered in a practice space, rehearsing the song “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer” for one of their latest projects–a production of the Broadway musical “Once On This Island,” where a group of storytellers recall the tale of Ti Moune, a Caribbean island country girl in love with an aristocrat.

“Though it’s in unison, you all have different timbres in the way you sound,” said Program Director Daniel Valentine. “I need a choir in unison. 1,2,3, ready and…”

“And knock some sense in her head!” the kids sang. 

Students in a room
A group of younger children in the Detroit Youth Choir attend a practice at Marygrove College on Tuesday. March 14, 2023. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

While the play won’t debut until June, audiences will be able to see the Detroit Youth choir perform much sooner at its “An American Treasure” concert at 5 p.m. Sunday at Orchestra Hall. The choir will sing greatest hits from their time on “America’s Got Talent” as well as songs with Tony Award-winning actress and singer LaChanze. 

Tickets are available on Eventbrite and range from $35-$100. The concert will be co-hosted by the Detroit Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship, with proceeds supporting the choir. 

“The Detroit Youth Choir is one of Detroit’s greatest cultural assets and my office is thrilled to help give the community an opportunity to see the choir perform in an incredible venue like Orchestra Hall,” ACE Director Rochelle Riley said in a news release. “These incredible young performers have graced the stage of Carnegie Hall and “America’s Got Talent,” so it’s only fitting that Detroiters have a chance to see them and support them right here on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.”

The concert comes weeks after NBC aired the finale of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” where fan favorites from past seasons returned to the show and competed against each other for the title. The Detroit Youth Choir finished in seventh place, Choir Director Anthony White said. 

The choir first appeared on the show in season 14 back in 2019 when they placed second. 

“DYC is still going to be DYC,” he said. “I’m still gonna wake up in the morning and our kids are still going to do well in school.” 

Anthony White in a room
Choir Director Anthony White assists with a rehearsal for the play “Once on This Island,” at Marygrove College on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

White said audience members can expect to go on a “DYC journey” for Sunday’s show, performing songs from the group’s beginnings in 1996 to the present. About 38 kids will be performing in the concert, with ages ranging from 8-18, White said. 

Overall, there are about 120 kids across metro Detroit in the three different choirs that make up DYC, White said. 

The troupe will sing a Motown medley, and a mashup of their songs from “America’s Got Talent.” Then the choir will perform three songs with LaChanze: “Golden” by Jill Scott, “Why We Tell the Story,” from “Once On This Island,” and a song from “The Color Purple” musical, which the singer performed in during the early 2000s. 

“A lot of people haven’t seen DYC live before, so this will be a first in the City of Detroit,” White said. “A lot of people have seen us in little performances around the city, but they haven’t seen a full-fledged concert.” 

One choir member excited to perform Sunday is Maya Rudds of Southfield. The 18-year-old, who has been in DYC for four years, said this will be her first time at Orchestra Hall and she is looking forward to singing the Jackson 5 classic, “ABC” during the Motown medley. 

“So many people in DYC have become my best friends,” she said. “We’re like a family.” 

Next, Detroit Youth Choir will be back on the small screen when their documentary, “The Choir,” premieres on Disney+ later this year. The six-episode series follows the choir as they prepare for a performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

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