Northwell Health’s Nurse Choir has fought its way to the finals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” The $1 million grand prize is on the line for the program’s season finale Tuesday and Wednesday as 10 acts vie for the win.
The group, composed of 18 nurses, competed in the semifinals Sept. 7, putting in a performance America thought worthy enough to send immediately to the finals.
As part of the show’s voting process, the top three acts bypass the “instant save” where judges vote on whom to keep alive. It was the second straight round the choir was lucky enough to earn this type of bye.
“Being able to go from the bedside and then the AGT stage, It was like something that we saw in a dream,” said Christian Montanez, a registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
The nurse choir captivated the audience yet again with a rendition of Andy Grammer’s “Don’t Give Up on Me.” The song follows previous performances of musical pieces that resonate with a message of hope and perseverance.
Selecting each one, Montanez said, is a challenge but worth finding to strike the right chord.
“We’re very strategic when we choose our songs because very important is that each one we sing has a message,” the nurse said. “At the end of the day, we can sing whatever song we really want to but we want to portray that message and that message is always having that hope, that resiliency, no matter how hard times are.”
Aside from battling COVID-19 on the front lines of New York’s largest health system, members of the choir have to rehearse parts or go over instruction either by themselves or on Zoom. It’s a difficult balance that Montanez said Northwell has been extremely supportive of, and a transition he believes the group is naturally wired for.
“They say music and science live in the same part of the brain so I think it’s almost natural for us to transition and change uniforms, being immersed in the day and performing at night,” he said.
There is a chance “America’s Got Talent” history could be made Wednesday night. In the show’s previous 15 seasons, seven winners have been individual singers, but a choir has never won. In season 14, the Detroit Youth Choir became runner-up, which leaves the local health care workers a chance to defy the odds once more.
Regardless of the results, the members of group said they have accomplished their goal. For Winnie Mele, director of perioperative services at Plainview Hospital, the entire journey from the hospital to Hollywood is unimaginable.
“The mission of our lives is nursing so any of this outside of our box is pretty incredible,” she said.