Claim: A video of a Kenyan pastor and gospel singer has gone viral on social media claiming to have turned the America’s Got Talent show into a church.
Verdict: False. The viral video is fabricated. Checks by DUBAWA indicate the original version was a performance by the Mzansi choir emotional performance on May 30, 2023.
A video has gone viral claiming to be of a Kenyan pastor preaching at the eighteenth season of America’s Got Talent. The video has been shared widely on social media and can be found here, here and here.
In the video, the man preaches passionately to the meditative audience. Simon Cowell, one of the seasoned judges of the show, could be seen shedding tears with some of the audience.
When writing this story, the video had over 884,000 views on TikTok, over 200,000 views on Facebook and 83,000 on YouTube, with over 30,000 comments on all platforms combined. The virality of the content prompted DUBAWA to validate the video’s authenticity.
The first red flag DUBAWA noticed was the inconsistency in the interplay of videos from the show and that of the pastor is different in quality and sound. We discovered that the video did not properly fit into the scenes, especially the part that got the audience clapping and shedding tears. To further investigate the claim, we surfed through America’s Got Talent’s YouTube page and found nothing related to the viral video posted on their official page.
Further analysis of the video revealed that it is a performance of the Mzansi Youth Choir, a choral group based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The group paid an emotional tribute to Jane Nightbirde Marczewski, a former contestant of AGT and songwriter who passed away on February 19, 2022, after a battle with cancer, by performing her song “It’s Okay,” in honour of the late Season 16 competitor. In the collaged pictures above, frame A represents scenes in the original performance. The second frame, B, represents the same scenes in the edited video.
The moving performance earned the show’s first-ever Audience Golden Buzzer, on May 30, 2023, at the opening of the 18th season of America’s Got Talent.
Another questionable scene in the video was that the reactions of the judges and the audience did not match what the preacher was saying. Moreover, the performance of the South African-based choir is the first to have received an audience Golden Buzzer. The judges could be seen turning to the audience to ask for their judgment, saying, “What do you think,” and the cheerful audience kept chanting “Golden Buzzer, Golden Buzzer, Golden Buzzer.”. Their position was cemented as Simon Cowell and his colleague judges hit the golden buzzer together, earning the Choir the first-ever audience Golden Buzzer.
The video of a pastor preaching at America’s Got Talent is an edited performance of the Mzansi Choir’s performance on May 30, 2023, to honour Jane Nightbirde Marczewski, a former competitor of the show who unfortunately lost her life to cancer. Therefore, the content is FALSE.
This report was produced under the Department of Communication Studies and DUBAWA’s project aimed at improving fact-checking competency and practice among Ghanaian media organisations with support from UNESCO IPDC.