skid row

Pop Culture

Skid Row singers leave 'America's Got Talent' audience in tears after 'Under the Bridge' cover

Their gospel rendition of Red Hot Chili Peppers' classic was truly unforgettable.

America's Got Talent/YouTube

The Freedom Singers performing "Under The Bridge"

On the June 20th episode ofAmerica’s Got Talent,” a group called the Freedom Singers brought the house down with what Howie Mandel called “more than” just an audition and something that was actually “needed.”

The eight singers forming the group hail from “Skid Row,” a 54-block neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles known for having one of the largest communities of unhoused people in the country.

These core members, formerly unhoused themselves, came together in the Arts and Culture department at the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), an organization dedicated to helping individuals in Skid Row and beyond.

“Skid Row is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles where five people per day die on the streets, houseless people. So, for us, Freedom Singing brings us close together; it is that medium that we’ve always used to come together as America,” one of the male singers explained.

One of the female singers described her and her mother’s “traumatizing” experience of being unhoused on Skid Row, having all of her personal belongings being taken away by city officials and “being left with nothing.” Finding the Freedom Singers and LA CAN became the “blessing” that helped her rebuild.

The founder of the group, Micayla De Ette, then told judges that the Freedom Singers represent not only those who are unhoused, but also those who are in transitional housing and those who have lost people on the streets.

“And so when we see someone on the street, I want to encourage you not to look the other way,” she said.

The group then performed a soulful, gospel rendition of “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The hit song, originally a poem written by RHCP lead singer Anthony Kiedis, depicts a low point in his life during substance abuse recovery and even refers to an unspecified bridge in downtown Los Angeles—making the choice of song all the more poignant.

With angelic harmonies and soaring solos, the Freedom Singers truly made the song their own, not only bringing all four judges to their feet but moving host Terry Crews to tears.

“All your voices together harmonize so beautiful, and I want to thank you,” said Crews, his voice breaking with emotion. “I want to thank you so much for what you do for the community, for what you do for so many people. I am completely touched right now.”

Earning four “yes” votes, the Freedom Singers will move on to the next round as Season 18 of “America’s Got Talent” continues. But they’ve already succeeded in sharing their powerful message.