What’s better than a group of talented and inspiring nurses? Well, a group of talented and inspiring nurses singing together.
The Northwell Health's Nurse Choir is a group of 18 nurses from Northwell Health––New York’s largest healthcare provider that employs 8,000 nurses––who perform together. According to their Instagram page, the group is “bonded by the power of music” and their mission is to raise their voices in song. And raise their voices they have––all the way straight to the stage at America’s Got Talent.
The choir actually advanced onto this season of America’s Got Talent finals after receiving the coveted “Golden Buzzer” by Howie Mandell during their initial audition.
If you’re not familiar with how the show works, the Golden Buzzer can be hit by any judge during any performance and automatically advances that contestant or contestant group straight into the live finals. It’s a sign that the group is so talented or so moving (or both!) that the judge bypasses the normal route of the show and sends them straight on. And the kicker is: each judge can only use the Golden Buzzer once per season, so it’s a really big deal.
The Northwell Health Nurse Choir is incredible, not just for their talent on stage, but for their dedication to serving through a pandemic that changed the world overnight.
“What makes this choir so special is that we’re all frontline nurses,” Winnie Mele, one of the choir’s singers and the director of perioperative services at Plainview Hospital, said during their appearance on the show. “We’re not professional singers; we take care of patients.”
That care of patients included being part of the first group of nurses to care for patients when it first hit New York, one of the most hard-hit areas of the pandemic so far. The choir is made up of many different types of nurses, from multi-generational nurses to second career nurses to nurses who teared up recalling the experience of being a frontline nurse during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurses talked about what a dark and “crushing” time the pandemic was for them, and then shared how their love of music and song became a source of “light” and hope to them. No matter how hard their shifts were and how lonely they felt fighting in the early days of this virus and how scared they were to go home to their families, they pressed on–and music provided them an outlet when nothing else could. Through the connection of music, they were able to find a reason to hope and keep going.
“This choir has actually been a beacon of hope for us,” said Mele.
And after over a year and a half of living through this pandemic, seeing nurses who have faced the virus and came out to the other side was incredibly inspiring–and that’s exactly the form of inspiration the group hopes to convey.
“It delivers the message that there’s always a light at the end of that tunnel,” said Christian Montanez, RN and rapper extraordinaire.
If I may step away from my reporting for a minute, I need to tell you two important things: First, if you haven’t already, you really need to watch this choir in action because they will give you chills.
Secondly, what struck me the most about their performance is how it perfectly embodies everything about what makes the nursing field so incredible--it was a group of incredibly different and diverse nurses, all having a chance to stand out and highlight their own unique talents and gifts (we’re talking even some rapping happening, people), all while being part of a larger group that uplifts and strengthens them all.
And if that doesn’t describe what nursing is all about, I don’t know what does.
“We learned that as long as we stand together, we can do anything,” said Montanez. “And look at us now.”
Be sure to look for the Northwell Health Nurse Choir on tonight’s finale episode of America’s Got Talent, when the winner of the $1 million grand prize will be announced. If the choir does win, they will also make AGT history, because so far, no group choir has ever won the show. And although votes have now closed for the show, you can still support and cheer the Northwell Health Nurse Choir on via their Instagram page.
Because let’s be honest: no matter what happens, this group of nurses are clearly the winners in our hearts and at the bedsides of all of their patients and patient’s families.