Drums appear across all cultures, a beat has been with us since each of us was in the womb. So why wait to get your hands on a pair of drumsticks?

That’s the idea behind the Atlanta Drum Academy, a youth percussion ensemble which made a real noise when they auditioned Tuesday night (June 13) for America’s Got Talent.

The Academy’s director James Riles, III, started it so little kids could get stuck in early and not wait for middle school to join the band.



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His group is a “safe space for all drummers, no matter their age, that want to learn to play the drums.”

One of those kids is eight-year-old band leader Chioma, a cheery lad from Georgia, with the self-belief that many of us older folks are sorely missing.

When asked backstage why choose AGT, he had the answer. “I had a dream that I was on America’s Got Talent, winning the golden buzzer, and now I’m just right here. I love this show.” The young lad is so determined, he even made a vision board with his mom. “I believe I can win.”

Chioma was so enthusiastic, he addressed the AGT judging panel without the use of his microphone. Small error, immediately corrected.

Leading the way with his marching drum, Chioma and the Atlanta Drum Academy beat their way into the hearts of the audience, and the judging panel, all of whom stood to their feet.

“It was fun, it was energetic, you guys are adorable,” enthused Howie Mandel. “I think everybody in this room loved you, I love you.”

“I love that you do something with your extra time outside of school instead of being on your computers,” remarked Heidi Klum. “You’re putting this amazing act together. I love that.”

“I haven’t seen anything like this before on this stage,” said Sofia Vergara. “I think you have a very big chance to win this competition because everyone is going to go crazy.”

“Well,” said Simon Cowell, “I didn’t like it,” a comment that earned a chorus of boos from the audience. “I absolutely loved it. Seriously what’s not to like. It’s so much fun and they’re so talented. This is one of my favorite, favorite auditions this year.”

Before the judges could tally their votes, host Terry Crews stepped in and took action. Golden Buzzer action. Some dreams do come true.

Watch below.

Lars Brandle
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