The America’s Got Talent Season 15 premiere got off to an emotional start Tuesday, with the episode cold-opening with a patriotic post-Memorial Day salute to COVID-19 responders set to “America the Beautiful” — along with an explanation that this season’s auditions took place at the Pasadena Convention Center just 17 days before stay-at-home orders were issued in Los Angeles. (Like similar TV talent shows American Idol and The Voice, AGT will now attempt to work within social-distancing restrictions once its competitive episodes commence in the summer.)
The two-hour premiere memorably featured one tear-jerking audition, which had already gone viral after being posted to AGT’s YouTube channel over the weekend, of Archie Williams, a man who was exonerated after spending 37 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. But it was another stirring performance, by Voices of Our City Choir, that earned the first Golden Buzzer of the season.
With the goal of reconnecting San Diego’s homeless community “with hope and possibility through the healing power of music,” the Voices of Our City Choir organization has helped more than 50 homeless people get off the street since it was co-founded by musicians Steph Johnson and Nina Leilani four years ago. “You guys represent so many people who are under-represented or not represented,” marveled AGT host Terry Crews during a backstage interview with the massive choir. “You are going to encourage and inspire so many people today.”
As VoOCC members of all backgrounds waited to audition, its eldest singer, a stately and stoic woman named Patricia who revealed that she’d been homeless off and on since age 18, said, “I’ve had a lot of bad experiences out there. Beat up. Robbed. But who is going to listen to me?” As it turned out, many people want to listen to Patricia, as evidenced by the elated crowd reaction to Voices of Our City Choir’s AGT audition. Said, Patricia with a smile. “I thank God for Voices of Our City Choir. Somebody wants to hear from me — and I’ll be singing loud!”
This article was originally published on yahoo.com/entertainment/.