LaNeice Galloway isn’t your typical high school senior. After all, she missed the first several weeks of the school year because she was in Los Angeles, appearing on NBC’s hit reality competition “America’s Got Talent.” But don’t worry. Galloway, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon, still received her classwork from her teachers at Groves High School while in California, spending three to four hours a day in a makeshift classroom before spending the rest of the day practicing with fellow members of the Detroit Youth Choir.
DYC, as the group is known, came in second place to singer and pianist Kodi Lee, but to metro Detroit, the talented singers and dancers, who ranged in age from seven to 18, emerged victorious.
“We knew they embraced us,” Galloway says of fans throughout the state, “but we didn’t know how much they embraced us until we got home.”
Galloway joined DYC last year, after the choir director, Anthony White, accompanied her on piano when she was singing at her church. She says she was skeptical about auditioning at first – she had been singing in her church choir since the age of four, but hadn’t participated in other vocal groups.
“Most of my life is DYC now,” says Galloway without regret. “It’s a really big commitment. You have to get good grades in school...there’s a lot of discipline.” She describes the choir members as a “big family.”
“There’s a lot of love between us. You see these people all the time, you bond, you do everything together. We move in one unit. I know that they always have my back no matter what. Some choirs just go home, but we do everything together.”
The journey to appear on AGT began last winter. The group participated in live auditions at the TCF Center (formerly Cobo Hall), before going to California in March for the taped auditions. It was then that they received the coveted “golden buzzer,” automatically advancing them to the next round. In August, they returned to LA for the live shows. They thought they would be there for a week, but ultimately stayed for over a month. Galloway jokes that “luckily, I overpacked.”
She describes making friends with fellow contestants, but also about how awkward it was to stay at the same hotels and eat breakfast in the same rooms as DYC’s rivals.
“Even though it was a competition, we made friends with everyone. We loved the judges, the producers,” a fact that may come as a surprise to those who remember show creator and judge Simon Cowell from his snarky “American Idol” days. They learned a lot from them as well, working with choreographers and vocal producers to hone the final routines before they aired.
Now that they’re back home, the rigorous pace continues. Notably, the choir is preparing to perform and serve as grand marshals for America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, among other appearances. A favorite moment of Galloway’s since the show ended was their appearance on fellow reality TV alum’s “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
Local companies have taken note of these talented students and singers as well, with Ford Motor Company Fund providing $1,000 scholarships to each of the participating students, and a $1 million endowment from local foundations.
“We made an impact to our city and the people really loved us.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent