By Amy PerryJuly 11, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (July 11, 2013) -- Virginia State University Gospel Chorale members showed off their vocal skills during a June 25 episode of "America's Got Talent" that aired on NBC.
Michael Rainey, a Fort Lee employee who works as an operations research analyst with the Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, was front and center with the choir during the national broadcast. Rainey serves as the group's business manager and is an alumnus of the school and choir from 1999-2002. During the audition for the "America's Got Talent" judges, Rainey answered their questions and introduced the group.
"I was extremely nervous," he said. "I've done things in front of large audiences, but knowing it would air all over the country and the world was pretty intimidating. I was also nervous about how the judges would perceive us and our talent."
During the competition, Rainey said the group was in a holding area where they could hear the crowd's reaction and the sound of the judges eliminating groups with the loud buzzers.
The choir performed "Search Me Lord" which featured member Bernard Walker, said Rainey.
"Before the audition, we were looking for a song that would wow the judges and we just naturally looked to Bernard," he said. "We wanted someone who would wow everyone."
The performance was a success for the group, said Rainey.
"We got an overwhelming response from the job we did," he said. "After the last note we sang, the crowd was on their feet chanting 'Vegas, Vegas, Vegas.'
"Getting the million dollars (the final prize for the show's winners) would be great because we do travel a lot, so the money could help with expenses, but the real reward for us is to show what we can do," he continued. "Words can't describe how we felt when the judges said 'we love what you do, you're going to Vegas.'"
The chorale's next audition is in Las Vegas sometime later this year and if they pass that competition, they will appear on the "America's Got Talent" shows where the audience votes for their favorite. The winning act also receives an opportunity to perform shows in Las Vegas.
The VSU Gospel Chorale has toured across the United States and has even traveled internationally in Italy, Virgin Islands and Canada, among other locations. They have competed in regional competitions and performed in one of the official National Day of Service events for President Barrack Obama's inauguration day festivities.
The group is known for its unique choreography and attire, said Rainey.
"You don't find a lot of college choirs who do choreography quite like we do," he said. "Our attire also sets us apart. Often, our attire choices stemmed from the fact we didn't have robes for a while, so we started being creative and coming up with different things to wear."
Visit www.youtube.com and search for "VSU America's Got Talent" to see the group's first performance on America's Got Talent.