Terry Crews is beaming with pride over his Golden Buzzer winners.
The America’s Got Talent host, who grew up in Flint, Michigan, pressed the coveted button for the Detroit Youth Choir, a group of talented inner-city kids, ages 8-18, led by choir director of 21 years Anthony White.
Describing DYC’s “groundbreaking creativity,” Crews tells PEOPLE that he was looking for talent he’s never seen or heard before. And it was all the more special that they are from his home state.
“Here you have first-timers, guys who have never had an audience this big,” he says in amazement.
DYC blew the judges and audience away with their rendition of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” which included a combination of acapella, rap and dance.
“Every young woman and man on this stage represents me and where I came from,” Crews, 50, said after their performance as he fought back tears, with some of the choir wiping their eyes, too.
“I remember sitting at my window in Flint, Michigan, dreaming and wanting to make it, and wanting to be here. And they’re here. They did so well! I have to do this!” the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor told the judges before walking down to the Golden Buzzer.
“Mr. White, all it takes is one person to believe in a young man or woman for them to reach their dreams, and you are that man, sir!” he added.
Crews, who made his Got Talent hosting debut on the series’ spinoff Champions last spring, tells PEOPLE that deserving acts, like DYC, find their reward after putting in long hours of practice and hard work.
“This is your shot: why not you? There’s a real big belief that some people just have it and some people don’t. But that’s not the truth,” Crews says. “The truth is people have worked for what they got. People who pay the price and people who are willing to do that. Only you have what you have. No one else can sing like you or dance like you.”
And the judges couldn’t agree more.
“This was your moment,” Howie Mandel told DYC after their stirring audition. “The dancing and the singing and the rapping, it’s so much more than what you’d expect from any other choir. I love you, I love you all.”
Julianne Hough echoed similar sentiments, telling the kids: “It starts with the people. You guys came together and created something that was traditional, like a choir, and you took it and went so fresh. It was so fun, the choreography — I was up on my feet. I love it!”
Gabrielle Union agreed. “What we all witnessed here tonight was nothing short of absolute brilliance,” she said.
And Simon Cowell predicted them as among the fan favorites to win it all. “If you could keep doing this where every performance is the last thing you would expect from a choir to do, you could win this,” he said.
Ultimately, White and the DYC want to prove that talent can come from anywhere, especially their beloved city. “Our mission is to show the young people from Detroit can be somebody,” White said.
“We give [the kids] something positive to come and be a part of. We can take that little bit of talent, pour some water on it and grow it,” he added.
“Mr. White, people like you are the reason I am where I am right now. All it takes is one person to believe that you can do it and you have that. And that’s more than so many people have on this Earth,” Crews said.
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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