A gospel choir filled with Tacomans is competing in the quarterfinals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday and notoriously harsh judge Simon Cowell is a fan.
“It’s quite obvious that you are amazing,” Cowell told the members of Greater Works during the choir’s do-or-die performance on Aug. 8.
About half of Greater Works’ 42 members live in the Tacoma area, said director DaNell Daymon. They are regular performers at the city’s annual Ethnic Fest and at churches in the area.
If they win the final show, the choir gets $1 million and performances in Las Vegas.
The show attracts around 13 million viewers.
“It’s very humbling,” said choir member Cassandra Williams of Tacoma. “You don’t wake up every day with an opportunity to sing on that platform with that number of people viewing.”
Greater Works sent in five different audition tapes to “Talent” last Spring until show producers were finally satisfied with an arrangement of “Proud Mary,” Daymon said.
In June, they sang “This Little Light Of Mine” for the judges in Los Angeles and were advanced to the August show.
“You took this Jew to church,” said judge Howie Mandel in June.
Daymon’s arrangement of “Ain’t No Mountain High” got judge Seal dancing during the August performance.
“There was a joy that filled this room when you started singing,” Seal said. “You got me out of my seat. I loved it.”
Both performances earned them a standing ovation from the audience and the judges.
Daymon founded the group in 2010. A 17-year Seattle resident, he relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2016 to become the choir director of a Baptist church there.
Daymon and the choir have been rehearsing five hours a day, every day, in LA as they prepare for the Tuesday quarterfinals.
Daymon describes Greater Works’ repertoire as contemporary gospel.
“It’s doesn’t matter what genre it is, as long as it communicates love,” he said.
The group has won over Cowell.
“He’s brutally honest and he has no filter,” Daymon said of Cowell.
Cowell shook the hand of each member of the choir, said member Erica Walker of Federal Way.
“He really does want us to make it,” she said.
Walker, who grew up in Tacoma, has been with the choir since 2012.
“We believe in winning,” she said. “So anything we set our minds to, we go out to win it.”
The group can’t reveal what it will sing on Tuesday, but Walker called it an “American classic.”
“You’re going to know it and you’re going to love it,” she said.
If the group advances to the semifinals it’s not going to be because of Cowell or the other judges. Viewers now decide the fate of the 24 remaining acts by voting.