Their incredible run on America’s Got Talent may have come to a halt in Wednesday night’s final but Ndlovu Youth Choir succeeded in winning hearts and minds around the world with their soul-stirring performances. The South African youth choir’s powerful rendition of ‘Toto’s Africa’ on Tuesday launched them into the finals, making them the first African act to do so.
It was the culmination of 16 weeks of thrilling live singing that made them a crowd favorite on season 14 of the hit television show.
Their journey started in June when the youth choir delivered a powerful performance of ‘My African Dream’ and received a standing ovation from the audience.
They have not looked back since and won a legion of fans around the world with their uplifting and moving performances.
https://t.co/0cHbrFcsRc Tonight we were proud young ambassadors of a united Africa. Africa has the worlds youngest population and our hope is that our performance reflected the talent, opportunity and potential of millions of young people. One nation, one continent. #Africa #Agt
— Ndlovu Youth Choir (@ChoirAfrica) September 18, 2019
Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and typically hard-to-impress judge, described the finale as the best he has ever seen.
“We’re so happy about how it went. And it shows that the hard work and dedication that these amazing young people put into their craft and their work pays off,” Ralf Schmitt, Ndlovu’s choir director told CNN.
On Wednesday night, singer Kodi Lee, won the competition, taking the grand prize of $1 million. He will also headline shows at Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Despite losing, everyone agrees that the Ndlovu Youth Choir have come a long way from their village in Moutse, Limpopo, one of South Africa’s poorest regions.
Our @AGT journey may have come to an end but this is only the beginning. We are so excited for what lies ahead and we look forward to continuing sharing love, unity and above all hope. 🇿🇦🇺🇸❤️🙏🏾 #agt pic.twitter.com/EDTtYh8Sfr
— Ndlovu Youth Choir (@ChoirAfrica) September 19, 2019
“Our AGT journey may have come to an end but this is only the beginning. We are so excited for what lies ahead and we look forward to continuing sharing love, unity and above all hope,” reads a post on the group’s official Twitter page.
Many of the choir grew up without running water or electricity in their hometown. Music was a way out of poverty for the group, says Schmitt.
“The challenges these kids face, it is devastating. Many of our kid’s parents have passed away and they have got to look after their siblings and do things on their own. So, to try and help those orphans and vulnerable children, we started a choir,” he said in an interview.
The young singers are aged between 14 and 25 and have been performing in their hometown since their choir was formed 10 years ago as a healing group to help them overcome their tough circumstances.
‘Thandi Limakola, one of the choir’s lead singers, in a video by AGT says growing up in the province is hard because they didn’t have running water and electricity.
Outpouring of love
Before the show, Ndlovu youth choir rose to global fame after posting a cover of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You on YouTube in 2018.
There has been an outpouring of love from South Africans as the country grapples with the aftermath of xenophobic attacks against other African immigrants and protests against gender-based violence.
Ndlovu Youth Choir’s success has provided light relief and united the country behind them under the hashtag #NdlovuYouthChoir.
Congrats #NdlovuYouthChoir @ChoirAfrica! You gave it your best! You exhibited your spirit of #ubuntu to the end. You are winners in South Africa and the world. We love you. Hold your heads high my children. You made us proud.
@ralfschmitt100 you made it look so enjoyable.👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/ZB0JCuAwlk
— Felicia Mabuza-Suttle (@Feliciamabuza) September 19, 2019
#NdlovuYouthChoir Representing Africa 🌍 at AGT. All the way from Limpopo. ❤ ❤ This group is so amazing. We surport you guys 110%
— Ngoanana Mosotho 🇱🇸🇱🇸 (@dipuomafereka4) September 18, 2019
— CHRIS (@ChrisSentsomedi) September 18, 2019
Schmitt is proud of Ndlovu youth choir, and says they are stars.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these young people who just went on the world’s biggest stage, which Simon Cowell said was the best phenomena he’s ever seen,” he told CNN.