INTERVIEW: Ventriloquist prodigy Darci Lynne (‘AGT’ winner) returns to Cobb Energy 9/28
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Darci Lynne attends "America's Got Talent" Season 14 Live Show Red Carpet at Dolby Theatre on September 03, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Getty Images)
“I think I’ve definitely stepped up my game a little bit,” Darci said in a recent interview. “I have some new material. It’s still the same family-friendly show. I have lots of great music, a lot of different genres. I’ve added opera!”
Plus, she used a family band and more support last tour, she is riding solo this time. “I have no opening act,” she said.
For her most recent “AGT” appearance a few weeks ago, her puppet Petunia sang James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s World.”
“I learned that song for ‘AGT,’ ” she said. “It’s hard, especially hard to learn with my mouth closed. But I enjoyed it.”
On tour, Darci still sings the classic “Summertime” from her original audition two years ago which blew away the judges and the audience. “I’ve definitely improved,” she said. “My voice has grown. I’m still proud of what I did then.”
Darci’s ventriloquist coach forces her to watch video of herself and work on getting better. “I hate doing it but it helps,” she said.
She said people marvel over how she’s able to do what she does and make it look so easy. “People want to see my brain activity during a performance,” she said. “I’m thinking so many different things. I’m thinking about the song. What I’m talking about with Petunia. How Petunia is interacting with me and the audience. Making sure I know the song lyrics and I’m in the right key. I also have to manipulate her arms. But once I get more comfortable with any new thing I’ve learned, it becomes second nature.”
She schedules two or three shows a month on weekends. But otherwise, she remains in Oklahoma City with her friends and family,which helps her stay grounded.
“I haven’t had my Miley Cyrus phase,” she said, with a giggle. “My family is my rock. They are very supportive. They’ve guided me. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
Darci, still a teenager, isn't sure if she will just do ventriloquism for her entire career like Jeff Dunham, who has been an arena act for years, or Terry Fator, "AGT" season two winner and Las Vegas headliner for 12-plus years.
She said she sang before she picked up a puppet and has dabbled in songwriting. She’d also like to explore acting.
But she also wants to be an example and inspiration to others exploring ventriloquism.
“I receive so many videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram of kids and even adults trying it,” Darci said. I’m amazed so many people are into it.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.