Staying ‘grounded in faith’ helps AGT winner on fame journey

Staying ‘grounded in faith’ helps AGT winner on fame journey

By Tracy Riggs
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Darci Lynne seems like a typical teenager — friends, social media, school and church are part of her daily life. But Darci is definitely not an average high schooler.

At 12 years old, Darci performed on season 12 of “America’s Got Talent” as a singing ventriloquist. After her stage audition, she got the “golden buzzer,” which sends a performer straight to the live shows.

She continued to advance through the competition and was crowned the winner of the show’s 2017 season, receiving the most votes ever for a finale performance. She later came in second on “America’s Got Talent: The Champions.”

Big dreams

Darci’s path to stardom has always included big dreams. Before ventriloquism, she was passionate about gymnastics and dreamed of going to the Olympics.

When Darci mentioned to her parents that she wanted to learn ventriloquism, her mom’s response was firm: “We don’t have time for this. You have too much on your plate,” said Darci, quoting her mother.

Darci persisted, however, and “begged and begged and begged” for a puppet. Her reluctant parents thought the interest would be a “passing fad” but surprised Darci with a puppet on her 10th birthday.

“It definitely wasn’t a passing fad,” Darci said with a laugh.

Darci said she was painfully shy as a child, so her parents put her in pageants and music programs to build her confidence in front of people. But even with that training, it took a while to get over her nerves during her act. Now performing in front of audiences of thousands, Darci said she wishes she had known then what she knows now: “You’ve got this, girl. You’ve practiced. You’re good enough, and it doesn’t matter what they think.”

Darci typically performs two weekends a month, flying with her puppets to each venue. Still, touring can be difficult sometimes, she said.

“We travel so much, and it’s hard to be away from my best friends and my family and my doggy … I also had to [change to] home-school this year, so that was tough.”

But, she said, “I wouldn’t trade any of it because of what I get to do. I still love meeting my fans and hearing their stories — that’s really amazing. People ask me why I like to perform so much — it’s because I like putting smiles on people’s faces and making their days better. That’s the biggest reward for me; it’s better than any award show I’ve ever won.”

Church also is very important to Darci, whose family is active at Church of the Servant, a Methodist congregation in Oklahoma City.

“My faith and staying true to my roots and true to what I believe has really been helping me stay grounded,” she said.

‘Be yourself’

In her short professional career, Darci has learned not to change for other people.

“You don’t have to be what everyone expects,” she said. “You just need to be yourself and stay true to yourself.”