Oxford grad’s audition on AGT goes well
By Don Rush
The 17th season of television’s America’s Got Talent got a little taste of Oxford last week, when Ava Swieczkowski opened up to sing and share her soul to judges, an in house audience and nearly 6 million Americans.
“I was nervous walking on the stage because it was all so new and I knew I would have to open up and share my story,” Swieczkowski – who goes by the stage name Ava Swiss, said. “But once I started singing, I grew comfortable fast. It felt like I was born for this moment.”
The episode, which aired on July 26 on NBC, was Swiss’ audition before a studio audience, judges Simon Cowell, model Heidi Klum, actress Sofia Vergara, and comedian Howie Mandel. It was taped this past April in Pasadena, California.
Swiss graduated from Oxford High School this last May.
Before she sang a tearful, soulful rendition of Lauren Daigle’s “Remember” Cowell, who is also the show’s creator, asked her why she chose that song. She answered, “ I chose this song because back on Nov. 30, my brother (Reed) and I were a part of the Oxford school shooting. We lost four of our students and seven others were injured, one of which was a teacher. It’s been hard. I remember my brother and I were talking to each other and said there’s no way we were ever stepping back in the school. But we’ve actually been in person in school for about two months now, so things are getting better. I remember my community, my family, just the love. And I remember that it’s all there for me, and it’ll help me get to where I need to be.”
And, then she closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths and sang.
Her mother, Kristin Swieczkowski, was backstage with the show’s host, actor and Flint native Terry Crews. Throughout the broadcast the camera shot switched from Swiss to her tear-filled eye mother.
“I have been listening to Ava sing her entire life, knowing one day I would have to share her with the world,” Kristen said. “After such a tragedy that we have been through, I couldn’t be more proud to see her rising up at a time in need. I am swelling with pride at the young woman she has become. The America’s Got Talent experience has been a great distraction for Ava during these hard times. They have been amazing to us, and it’s been a fun experience so far.”
When she finished singing, a number of the judges just said, “wow,” before standing up with the audience for an ovation.
Judge Howie Mandel said, “You know, in life it’s tough to show up, especially going through incredible trauman. The fact you can break through that and shine the way you did today is so inspirational for every human being. So, you, you really shined. It was wonderful.”
Judge Heidi Klum just said, “wow,” again, who was followed by judge Sofia Vergara who said, “You took my breath away.”
People across the nation, as well as Ava, next waited for the often sharp-tongued and critical Simon Cowell to comment.
“My favorite memory of the audition is hearing Simon say that he was glad to have met me,” Ava said. “I was really hoping he would like it, but I wasn’t expecting him to be as kind and complimentary as he was.”
Cowell said, “Alright, listen. I think you are gutsy, I really, really do. I mean for ame this is one of the auditions I will never forget. I have so much respect for you – on top of that , you’ve got a great voice. You’re somebody I’m so happy to have met.”
All the judges then voted “Yes” for Ava to move on to the next round of the competition.
This past Wednesday, after the show had aired Ava said, “To Oxford, I want to say thank you for all the messages and texts full of nothing but pure love. It is so amazing knowing the town that I am representing here is supporting me through this process. I was most nervous about representing our town properly. I just wanted to make you all proud and continue to hopefully shine some light on us all after everything we have been through together. I love you Oxford. We will continue to rise up and be Oxford strong.”
According to Ava’s father, Mark, the judges of AGT give out “yes” votes to about 100 contestents. From that 50 will be selected to move forward, those 50 performing on five live shows which will start airing Aug. 9 “We have not been told if we’re moving forward yet,” he said.
The Swieczkowski family lives in Metamora. Rounding out their family are Ava’s older brother Marcus, who will be a freshman at Lawrence Tech, younger siblings Reed (who will be a sophomore at OHS), and sister Norah who will enter Oxford Middle School this fall.
America’s Got Talent airs at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays on local NBC affiliates. If you have not seen the audition, it can be viewed on Youtube.
One night after airing on NBC, on youtube there were nearly 1,000 comments about Ava’s performance. Here’s a sampling of what the nation was saying.
Daryl White: This is a very hard song to sing Lauren doesn’t sing it live very much Ava you SMASHED this song I truly hope Lauren sees this and reaches out to you you are truly AMAZING you definitely have my votes Ava
Desiree Cappel: Hi another student from Oxford highschool, this performance will stay on repeat in my head for years to come. It was extraordinary and so beautiful it gave me chills down to the bone. This was something I didn’t know I needed, it made me cry a lot but also gave me a lot of strength. I’m so proud of our community and of Ava for sharing her voice with us and the world and making our healing process a little less rough ️ Stay strong Oxford
Paul Belmonte: I’m from Oxford. My nephew was a senior in the building when it happened. Ava helped our community heal just a little more last night. These kids are so strong. Beautiful person, beautiful voice. Go Ava!
Jarencio Geda: She is like singing while crying. The performance was so vulnerable and infectious. It was so sincere and inspirational. To people who lost their loved ones stay strong and never let people go before we care and love them. Always talk to them and always cherish every moment you have with them.
Miranda Cook: I’m from Oxford MI; been raised here my whole life. The students who faced the unthinkable that day are so strong and resilient, and Ava is a perfect example of how these children have shined, despite it all. Oxford is rooting for you all the way Ava.