The 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus will compete Tuesday night in the “America’s Got Talent” final against 10 other acts — and they’re “training to win.”
The ensemble has taken the television show by storm, racking up one of the most viral auditions of the season with their first-round rendition of “My Girl” by the Temptations — a performance that garnered favorable marks from all four judges.
For the live round, the group performed “I am Here” by Pink, with chorus members telling Military Times the song represented the ideals of 82nd Airborne values.
“We wanted to choose a song that not only had a good message for what the 82nd Airborne Division stands for, but really just put it out there to the American population that if there’s ever a need for troops for war ... we just want to let everybody know that we are here and we stand for America,” Staff Sgt. Marcus Gilbert said.
The show’s viewership voted the 82nd singers to advance to the season finale after the live round, a performance in which the soldiers knew they had to “bring something bigger” than traditional Army formations, Spc. Oscar Roldan said.
As part of their performance, the soldiers skipped around stage and executed coordinated movements, diverging from singing in a standard, lined formation. That show, chorus members told Military Times, was the first time the group had ever used choreography meant for the stage. Designing the routine, meanwhile, meant balancing performance art with the Army traditions of bearing and discipline, Roldan said.
“Obviously, we’re not going to get up there and do wigs, like avant-garde,” he added. “I think what we did was the right amount. ... We needed to do more and we needed to be more dynamic. But we also needed to do it in such a way that people now assigned what they saw to our representation of the military.”
As for the chorus’ song choice for such high stakes, the ensemble members remained tight-lipped.
“You know our policy — never let them know your next move,” Roldan said. “It’s gonna be different again, but I think this one’s really gonna touch America’s heart. I truly believe that.”
The chorus will perform on NBC on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. EST. Results of the competition will be released Wednesday by NBC.
Based in Fort Liberty, North Carolina, the chorus represents the 19,000 soldiers who serve in the 82nd Airborne Division. The division specializes in forcible entry operations, during which soldiers parachute into areas to make way for further military action. Soldiers of the 82nd are renowned for being able to deploy within 18 hours notice.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.