A choir of 18 nurses from New York recently took the stage to audition for America’s Got Talent’s new season. The ensemble, aptly going by the name the Northwell Health Nurse Choir, immediately struck a chord with their audience. The choir’s medley of “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers and “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King was deemed “beautiful, heartfelt” and “heroic” by judges Sofía Vergara and Howie Mandel.
The emotion behind their performance stemmed from their individual and collective experiences as frontline nurses who served during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurse and choir member Christian Montanez explained that “[b]ack in March , when New York was the epicenter of COVID, we were so scared. One patient became 10, 100, 1,000. Nobody knew how many people COVID would kill…. Patients were dying left and right. We were getting sick. Our families were getting sick.”
Yet, these nurses found hope and strength in music. They banded together as a united front inspired by the light at the end of the tunnel. Winnie Mele, another nurse and choir member, explained that “[t]his choir actually has been a beacon of hope for us…. we know that there is a lot of us out there that are still hurting, and we’re hoping to just shoot out some joy and some love. And to let them know that we found our resilience. We’re hoping that they do as well.”
The performance itself brought everyone to their feet as Vergara deemed it “perfection” and Mandel smashed the Golden Buzzer. The Golden Buzzer on America’s Got Talent is reserved for the judges’ favorite acts, and pressing it sends the contestants straight to live shows free from the first round of elimination. The Buzzer also lets loose a flurry of gold confetti. Clearly, the judges recognized the talent that this choir possesses and the power of their message.
Simon Cowell also addressed the choir saying, “We need you. The world needs you. It’s gonna touch a lot of people. People are gonna remember this audition. I’m gonna remember this audition.”