‘America’s Got Talent’
Los Angeles Skid Row’s very own Freedom Singers performed in the final four of “America’s Got Talent’ season 18 contest on Sept. 12, with results from the judges revealed the following day on TV. The Freedom Singers ensemble, composed of eight singers, breathes new life into music and the traditional sounds of their movements.
The eight members met at the Arts and Culture department at the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), an organization that exists to help the needy.
“Skid Row is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles where five people per day die on the streets, houseless people,” explained one of the male singers. “So, for us, Freedom Singing brings us close together; it is that medium that we’ve always used to come together as America.” The Freedom Singers use music to heal trauma and help the community around them.
Skid Row is a community of homeless people living in Downtown Los Angeles with over 10,000 people living in tents, RVs and also at various missions. The Freedom Singers lived on Skid Row under different circumstances, and all had to learn how to survive and provide themselves with the necessities. The individuals that make up the group found music to be a haven and a way for them to connect with other people, which led to the creation of the group.
The group’s director and founder, Micayla De Ette, appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show to discuss the group. “It’s already nerve-wracking, okay. Just cameras and, you know, celebs and everything. They killed it, I can say that. We did our very best,” Ette continued. Ette spoke about how the group worked extremely hard to prepare for the first round of the competition in June, when they first performed for the judges and showcased their talent to the world.
“You have a powerful voice, powerful message, it was beautiful, it gave me goosebumps, it made me emotional,” Heidi Klum, a judge on AGT, enthused. “This was a great audition.” The singers launched into a gospel rendition of Red Hot Chili Peppers early 90’s hit, “Under The Bridge,” an apt song from the local act about sleeping rough.
The crowd, the judges, and commentators were expectedly moved by the group’s performance, with Judge Howie Mandel in tears after hearing about their story of being homeless. “Homelessness,” noted Howie Mandel, “You have given it a voice, you have given us a purpose, and it’s a message. This was more than just a song, more than an audition, it was needed. Thank you for informing, entertaining, and blowing the roof off this place.”