Have you ever heard of the “In the Stairwell?” Maybe not? Well, let me introduce who they are. “In the Stairwell” is an unofficial Air Force Academy singing group that was founded in 2004. Interestingly, they got their name from the only place they could get together since there are restrictions in the dorm. Two of the group’s leader are from Alabama. The group’s lead singer is Benjamin Hightower, son of Alabama Sen. Bill Hightower, a Republican candidate for governor. Another of the 15 singers is Bram Gygax of Madison, a former University of Alabama in Huntsville student who ran his own singing telegram service in the Huntsville area as a kid.
Though unofficial, the group has had quite an experience with their music and performances. From retirement parties, civic functions, the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (the competition that the “Pitch Perfect” movies are based on) as well as in social media.
Finally, last June, they had the chance to show case their talents in NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” as they auditioned and performed “Drag Me Down” by One Direction.
The group impressed the judges including Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Mel B. However, they got an “X” from Howie Mandel.
Nonetheless, they moved on in the competition.
Check out their performance here:
So, after the auditions, here is the “In the Stairwell” again with their latest performance on AGT. During the final judge’s cut, they were finally able to impress Mandel, who now said that they had stepped up their game. They did their rendition of ‘NSync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye,” and so, they will advance to the live shows, where we can get to vote.
Here is their second performance:
The academy even tweeted their support from the official account saying: “Great @AGT performance @InTheStairwell1! Your #usafafamily is proud of you!”
— U.S. Air Force Academy (@AF_Academy) August 9, 2017
Seal was there as a celebrity judge and at the end of their performance, he was standing up and clapping. He commented about how their military training must help them sing in precision a capella style, something he said is not easy to do.
At the end of the show, when the cuts were announced, “In the Stairwell” grabbed the first of seven open slots. The “Honey Beez,” a group of plus-sized hip-hop dancers from Alabama State University, impressed the judges but didn’t make the cut.
Prior to their performance, Gygax was featured in an interview about why he pursued a military career, entering the Air Force Academy after a year at UAH. He said that his father, a U.S. Navy pilot, was his inspiration.
Though he “really wanted to be a pilot,” Gygax was diagnosed with a mild color deficiency in his graduation eye exam, so instead he’ll be going into acquisitions. He still loves flying though, and is a glider instructor pilot with the academy’s six-man Aerobatic Demo Team, “which means I have the opportunity to fly in competitive aerobatics and airshows around the country.”
We wish you all the best of luck to the finals, go for it!