As a military wife, Abi Hodgson thought she probably wouldn’t be able to pursue her dream of singing.

The Lewiston native has two young children to care for, and with her Marine husband often in other parts of the world, she just didn’t see how a singing career would ever happen for her.

But on Aug. 6, she found herself singing live on the hit NBC reality TV show “America’s Got Talent.”

Hodgson and the other 36 members of the American Military Spouses Choir sang “Hero” by Mariah Carey, and did well enough to advance to the show’s semifinals, which begin Aug. 27.

“It was just overwhelming, surreal,” said Hodgson, 28, who now lives in North Carolina near her husband’s base.

Hodgson grew up singing in church — her father is pastor at South Lewiston Baptist Church — and she sang in high school in a range of groups.

But she had never sung before such a big crowd, and certainly not on national television.

Now she and her choir mates have the chance to win a $1 million prize on the show’s finale, airing Sept. 18 — if they don’t get eliminated first.

But even if her group doesn’t win, the show may have opened new doors for Hodgson while rekindling old dreams.

“Because my husband is constantly gone, I sort of put my dreams on the side and thought it would be really difficult to do,” she said. “But my husband keeps saying I should do what I need to do, and he’ll be there for me.”

Being on the show, which is taped live at Radio City Music Hall in New York, was emotional for Hodgson for a variety of reasons. First, it was her grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary. And she was thinking of her longtime friend and Lewiston High School choir mate Lizzy Snyder, who has been very ill recently, enduring nine surgeries in the past five months.

“The only thing that keeps her going is music,” said Hodgson of Snyder. “She was the first person to tell me that I needed to do this (be on the TV show). So when I went on stage, I thought of her.”

The summer season of “America’s Got Talent” started with 60 acts. A dozen or so are performing every week until the group is culled to 20 semifinalists.

The semifinalists will begin performing on the Aug. 27 episode. The show airs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with performances on Tuesday and results on Wednesday.

Although Hodgson’s choir has made it to the semifinals, NBC publicists said they do not know yet when the choir will next perform on the show.

In a “small world” moment, another Mainer who is an acquaintance of Hodgson’s was also a contestant on “America’s Got Talent” this season. Colin Britt, 28, is an Auburn native living in New Jersey. He is founder and director of the 3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra, which performed on the show on Aug. 13 but was eliminated.

Being that they’re the same age, are from the same area and are both involved in music, Hodgson and Britt have run into each other from time to time. At one point, Hodgson performed in a student theater group run by Britt.

Hodgson had pretty much resigned herself to not sing on stage about a year ago, when she got a call from someone starting a vocal group for military wives. The group has 37 members whose husbands are in every branch of the military.

They live all over the world, so most of their rehearsals are via the Internet using Skype.

“There’s a little sound delay, but later we get emails with the recording so we can hear everything,” said Hodgson. “Usually what happens is, the night before, we perform somewhere we get together.”

On the night they performed on the show, the choir members wore long purple gowns and sashes with the name of the branch of the military their husbands are in. They advanced because of the amount of votes they got from viewers.

As for the possibility of winning the show’s $1 million prize, Hodgson said she and the other choir members haven’t talked about it.

She says she hasn’t even thought about it.

For now, Hodgson is just happy to be able to sing to the world.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


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