Detroit kids' 'Happy' video goes viral and gets TV shows' attention

The choir at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences has a lot to be happy about.

Tuesday morning, the "Today" show called.

Tuesday afternoon, the "Ellen" show called.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a representative of "The Queen Latifah Show" called.

Representatives of all three shows want the 40-member school choir to perform their rendition of Pharrell's "Happy" on air thanks to a video of them performing the catchy tune that went viral. The two-minute video has been viewed more than 175,000 times on YouTube.

The performance — recorded on a choir dad's Galaxy S4 cell phone — was an audition video for "America's Got Talent." But since Edward Bone recorded the video and posted it two weeks ago, it has been featured on the Michael Baisden radio show and countless Facebook pages.

"I'm excited and tickled and pleased and amazed at what has happened just over a cell phone video," said choir director Angela Kee. "Something positive for a change. A lot of times what you see on cell phone videos is negative."

All this happy happenstance arrives just in time for Thursday, which is International Day of Happiness, a day set aside to promote and recognize the value of happiness toward people's health and well-being.

Clearly, happy is trending. It's the subject of books, websites, a magazine, cookbook and yep — there's an app for that.

The happy notion resonated with Kee.

"I picked the song because it is a favorite of the children," she said. "It's catchy. It's easy to teach, and the lyrics are positive. It drives negativity out of your heart.

"I can hear the children singing and whistling the song in the hallway after they've left class. They leave here thinking, 'I can do this! I can do that! I can go take that math test without having jangled nerves.' "

Kee said the choir produced the video after an "America's Got Talent" producer called March 3 and requested a fresh video by March 7.

"We practiced every day that week during choir class and after school," she said.

The teacher and the students created the choreography together. "I threw in some of my old-school moves, and the students added some more modern steps," Kee said. "I didn't think they would like my dances, like 'the swim' and 'the shimmy,' but they did."

With limited time and money for a professional production, Edward Bone, whose daughter, Aisha Bone, is in the choir, recorded the video in the school's media center.

Kee said the choir hasn't heard from the "America's Got Talent" producer who requested a song, but it received an independent inquiry from another "AGT" producer who saw the video. She's still waiting to hear from the first producer.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the "Today" show came calling at 8:30 a.m. about the catchy "Happy" video, featuring 10-year-olds Samuel Pickens and Asia Newson as lead vocalists. Next, a representative of the "Ellen" show called at 1:30 p.m., topped off by "The Queen Latifah Show" rep at 3:50 p.m., she said.

Lesslie Pickens, Samuel's mother, said she's not surprised by her son's performance.

"He always said he's going to be a superstar, retire at 15 and then become a scientist," said Pickens, who added that her son also sings with four siblings in a group called "Perfect Praise."

Samuel said both the music and lyrics of "Happy" energize and inspire him.

"When I first heard that song, I really felt it. It says can't nobody bring you down, and I really feel that way, too," he said.

Bone, who has three children — two of whom attend the school just east of downtown Detroit — said he has been surprised and pleased by the response.

"Really, it was just me being proud of my daughter ... and wanting people to see what a good job they're doing," Bone said. "It's like the song says, happy. I'm happy to be a proud parent of one of the students."


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