Meet Mzansi Youth Choir, ‘AGT’s First Audience Golden Buzzer
Mzansi Youth Choir made history on the Season 18 premiere of America’s Got Talent by earning the show’s first ever audience-chosen Golden Buzzer. The singing group from South Africa delivered a beautiful tribute to late AGT contestant Nightbirde.
AGT‘s Mzansi Youth Choir Was Formed in South Africa
Mzansi Youth Choir is from Soweta in Johannesburg, South Africa. Before their first performance, they shared that the choir’s founders Jannie and Marina Zaaiman were inspired to create the group 20 years ago after being carjacked by young people. They started the choir to “change young lives.”
According to the choir’s website, their goal is “affording talented, underprivileged teenagers and young adults the opportunity to proficiently perform locally and abroad.” The choir’s name is taken from the isiZulu word for “south,” which is also used as a slang word for South Africa.
Mzansi Youth Choir sings various types of music, which they divide into three categories — Our Roots (traditional), Our Spirit (gospel), and Our Youth (pop). They’ve released several singles, including a recent cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” The choir has also covered Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”
Before their audition, the choir shared that they chose to try out for AGT because it’s “the biggest talent competition in the world” and “has the power to inspire and give hope to the people.”
Nightbirde Heard the Choir’s Cover of ‘It’s OK’
During the AGT season premiere, Mzansi Youth Choir brought judge Simon Cowell to tears when they performed “It’s OK” by Nightbirde, aka Jane Marczewski. Nightbirde auditioned for Season 16 of the show with the original song. She had to drop out of the competition due to health reasons and sadly passed away last year following a battle with cancer.
After their audition, the choir shared that they were “very inspired and touched” by Nightbirde’s story after seeing her audition. They decided to record their own version of “It’s OK,” describing it as “such a pillar of strength for us as a choir through difficult times.”
In October 2021, Nightbirde actually responded to the choir’s performance of her song, writing on Facebook, “I was holding back tears as I listened. How moving, and what an honor!”
Nightbirde also received a Golden Buzzer from Cowell for her audition, so it’s fitting that Mzansi Youth Choir received the first audience-chosen Golden Buzzer for their tribute to her. The choir will now go straight to the live shows for Season 18.