Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer is back on the road, finding time to nurture her faith even as she travels the nation entertaining audiences with her humor and vocal talents.
At just 12 years old, Farmer, a native of Oklahoma, won “America’s Got Talent” as a singing ventriloquist. She came in second two years later on the “AGT: Champions” season. Throughout the journey, Darci Lynne, now 17, has learned that it’s OK to be unique, crediting her puppets for giving her confidence.
After three cancellations due to COVID-19, Darci Lynne finally was able to perform Jan. 30 at Birmingham’s BJCC Concert Hall. She brought her puppets Katie, the yodeling cowgirl; Petunia, the operatic diva rabbit; Oscar, a shy mouse; Edna, elderly and outspoken; and her newest, Ivan, a one-eyed purple Australian. She also brought her amazing voice and new songwriting skill, performing three original songs with her live band.
Faith and show business
Like many performers, Darci Lynne admits that combining faith and show business is not easy.
“It’s hard to be a Christian in this business. It’s very pressuring, and it’s not that cool,” she said.
Darci Lynne grew up in a Christian environment and decided to follow Christ at summer camp when she was 12. After her first AGT win, a top priority for the $1 million in prize money was to give a portion to her church, she said.
“[My faith] is really important to me,” she said, “and if I’m home I go to my church. If I’m only home on Wednesdays, I go then.”
She attends New Covenant Methodist Church on Sundays when she isn’t performing, though she’s able to be more consistent attending the youth program on Wednesday nights at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Her show, though family friendly, does not include any faith-based elements, but she’s considered what that might look like.
“I’ve yet to incorporate a spiritual moment into my shows, which is something I’ve thought a lot about,” she said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out what that would look like. Even outside of my shows, I want to think on opportunities and moments where I can share what I believe in with other people, especially the kids I inspire.”
Darci Lynne describes herself — as do her friends and family — as “an old soul.” She loves a variety of music genres a typical teen may never have heard — jazz, funk, soul and ragtime — and watching classic movies that include those styles.
Before the pandemic she had been touring for four years and was rarely home, especially on weekends. When she wasn’t able to tour, she made time to hang out with her best friend and learn to drive, important to any teenager. But Darci Lynne also worked on her act.
“I was at home all day, every day. It was so weird,” she said. “So I took it upon myself to get into things that I usually wouldn’t be able to do when I was on the road. One was songwriting … which was just so fulfilling and super fun to explore and to learn that craft,” she said.
When she was younger, a lot of Darci Lynne’s material was written with input from adults and her parents. But with extra time and her experience performing, she came out of quarantine with a new show.
“This show is a lot of my ideas and my vision. I’m really proud of it,” she said.
The pandemic also gave her time to think about the future. Though she loves ventriloquism, Darci Lynne has always been adamant she’s more than a ventriloquist. She’s praying for clarity about what to do after she graduates from high school in 2023.
One of her favorite aspects of performing, Darci Lynne noted, is how she can inspire others to learn the fading form of comedy — ventriloquism.
“This happens every show — I always see kids who come into my shows and sit in the audience and bring their own ventriloquist puppets. It’s so cool. I see how their faces light up whenever I’m singing or performing. They have their puppets, and their puppets are just nodding along. It’s the coolest thing to see.”
Her goal when starting to perform, even before AGT, was to help “kids my age to know about ventriloquism more. I wanted to share this gift with the world because it was dying.
“So now, four years later after winning,” Darci Lynne said, “to sell out these shows and to see all these kids bringing their puppets with them and meeting them in meet-and-greet and hearing them say, ‘You inspired me to do it, Darci’ — it’s so cool.”
She also loves the age range within her audiences, from 3 to 83.
“This world needs something that is fun and entertaining and enjoyable for everyone to watch,” Darci Lynne said. “I think that’s super important, especially for kids. There’s songs of all different genres and a live band, which is a really important aspect to me, then the puppets, which bring the life and the comedy.”