Greenville native moves on to next round of "America's Got Talen - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Greenville native moves on to next round of "America's Got Talent"

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The Mahoning and Shenango Valleys have been well represented on season 12 of "America's Got Talent." 

On Tuesday night, a Greenville native shined with the Air Force Academy's a capella group In the Stairwell. As the show aired, he was already on his way to L.A. to prepare for the live show.

The group sang NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" during the second round audition.

Celebrity judge Simon Cowell said, "The most important thing for me is who we're going to remember tomorrow morning. I think we're going to remember you."

The captain of the group for the past year, Mercer Martin, said, "It's one of those experiences that we will be able to keep with us the rest of our lives." 

Martin graduated from Greenville High School in 2014 and is a senior political science major at the Air Force Academy. He never expected to be in the national spotlight.

"Unbelievable. I kind of thought that after I was done with high school and all the musical stuff I did there that was it. I didn't even think that I would get into this a capella group," he said.

But the 21-year-old did make it his sophomore year. He had no idea that the group even existed his freshman year. 

Martin said that In the Stairwell started in 2004 with a gathering of three to four freshmen in the stairwell. The stairwell is a place where they are allowed to sing, amidst tight restrictions in other parts of the dorm. Just last year, the group became an official club.

During high school, Martin was the drum major in the marching band, an all state chorus and band member and an actor in musicals and plays.

The bass vocalist credits his mother for getting him started in the choir at the First United Methodist Church in Greenville at a young age.

"Music has been a pretty big part of my life," he said.

Recently he has been busy practicing with this group which rehearses about an hour and a half to two hours almost every day during the school year. 

Martin said that a casting producer for "America's Got Talent" reached out to the group to audition and the rest is history. The group initially sang One Direction’s “Drag Me Down" during the first audition. Their performance catapulted them into the second round and now the live show.

"A little bit of shock, a little bit of disbelief. Honestly, throughout the whole experience just being on the show has been unbelievable and then making it to the second round and then making it to the live show has just been completely surreal," he said.

One of their critics has been judge Howie Mandel who said on Tuesday, "I wasn't as impressed the first time. This was more fun. There was more character, it made me smile more. Do I think it's a million dollar act? No, but I think you stepped it up from last time."

Cowell had asked the group if the audition was "sort of like a dare" and Martin responded yes. He continued to ask if they were "serious now about competing in the show," and Martin said, "Oh yes, definitely. I don't want to use the word desperate but there probably isn't very much we wouldn't do to go to the next round I'll be honest with you."

Martin said that they took the advice from the judges seriously in the first round and simplified their choreography in the second round. 

Now they are busy preparing for the live show at the Dolby Theatre next Tuesday August 15, which will air on 21 WFMJ at 8 pm.

Martin flew out to L.A. Tuesday and said that the group has the bare bones of the song done. They will be filming, perfecting the vocals and working on the choreography during the week.

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