Last week, 100 children and 85 adult chaperones boarded five flights out of Salt Lake City destined for New York. Now, the group of singers — ranging in age from 7 to 17 and known as the One Voice Children's Choir — will perform on live television from Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday at 8 p.m. MDT.
The choir from Utah, directed by Masa Fukuda, auditioned for NBC's "America's Got Talent" earlier this year in Hollywood and was selected by the judges to move on to the quarterfinals in the talent competition.
For weeks, the group had an opportunity to return home and prepare for its next performance. During this time, many local performers visited with the children to help them prepare.
"In between Hollywood and New York they have been practicing and rehearsing and they’ve brought in several people to help give them experience of what it’s like to be on a reality TV show," Lane Critchfield, a father of three choir members, told the Deseret News.
"For example, David Archuleta came by. He gave them a little talk about what it’s like, let them ask questions about feeling pressure and how to sing under pressure. They asked him to sing for him and he sang a little song."
Others volunteered to address the children, including a performance psychologist from the University of Utah and McKay Crockett, a former member of the Brigham Young University a capella group Vocal Point.
Now in New York City, the choir has been rehearsing for five to seven hours a day in preparation for its live performance.
"It’s been long days for them," Critchfield said. "We try to be finished by 6 p.m. so they can enjoy the city and see some of the sites. For some of the kids it was their first flight, and of course for a large percentage of the kids it was their first time in New York, so it’s been really a fun experience."
As the largest group to ever appear on "America's Got Talent," Critchfield explained that there are coordination challenges, but overall the children have made an impression.
"The funnest part is when they finish their song, all the sound crew and all the other people around start singing it, and you know that's when you've got something good and contagious, when just the people working in the auditorium start singing their song," Critchfield said. "They just sound amazing because they can blend parts together so well. They're not a typical children’s choir."
Lane Critchfield's wife, Amelia Critchfield, the vice president of the choir board, said that the One Voice Children's Choir was asked to audition for the TV show.
"The choir’s never been about competition or fame — never," Amelia Critchfield told the Deseret News.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity for us to share our inspirational message with a broader audience and also a really neat experience for our kids to be able to see more and do more and kind of bring their performance level up to another level and remember something for the rest of their lives."
After the group's performance on Tuesday night, voting will open for two hours. Votes may be cast by either calling the toll free number provided on the show, by logging on to NBC.com, visiting the "America's Got Talent" Facebook page or voting through a Google account.
Wednesday night, the top five acts will be announced and will move on to the semifinal round.
Amelia Critchfield expressed her appreciation for the community support and for the experience her kids have had the opportunity to enjoy.
"They absolutely love it," she said. "My 14-year-old daughter told me, 'Mom, it feels so good to me to have put so much time and effort and focus in to something and to be seeing the fruits of my efforts. And I just feel so good that I'm participating in this.' And that makes it great for me as a parent that it's not something we have to talk them into participating in. They love to do it. It makes them feel good. It's inspiring and uplifting."
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