Expanded interview and video: 'America's Got Talent' winner Darci Lynne Farmer playing hometown OKC concert on Mother's Day
An abbreviated version of this story appears in Friday's Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Puppet master: OKC singer/ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer plays hometown show after honing her talents on tour
Less than halfway through 2019, Darci Lynne Farmer has competed in a second TV talent show, been officially declared a role model and brought the tally of states she has visited to 39.
Even a year and a half after winning “America’s Got Talent,” the 14-year-old Oklahoma City singer and ventriloquist is still relishing fresh adventures she wouldn’t have experienced any other way.
“Going on ‘AGT,’ I just really wanted to inspire other to try ventriloquism because it’s such an old art. I wanted other people to try it, and I ended up meeting that goal – because these tours and these kids are living proof of that,” she said in a recent phone interview during her ride home from school. “I see lots of kids bringing their puppets to the shows. And some of them will come back to meet and greet and I get to meet them, I get to meet their puppets, and they say that I inspired them to do it. So, it’s really awesome to see that.”
Although she has made additional television appearances – most notably starring in her own Christmas special and advancing all the way to the final two on the winter spin-off series “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” the Deer Creek Middle Schooler has mostly been focused on performing live and in person. She is bringing her second tour, "Darci Lynne and Friends: Fresh Out of the Box,” to her hometown Sunday for a Mother’s Day matinee at the Civic Center Music Hall.
It will be her first Oklahoma City show since her four-show, two-day stand at The Criterion in December 2017.
“I’ve definitely improved personally as a performer. Starting out I was just such a noob,” she said, laughing as her mom, Misty Farmer, cracked up at her use of the slang for “newbie.” “I was still figuring it all out. But last year was a 52-city tour. Fifty-two cities is a lot of practice … and I kind of know what I’m doing now.”
After winning NBC’s summer 2017 edition of “America’s Got Talent” at the age of 12 by the most votes for a final performance in the history of the show, Darci Lynne was one of 50 all-star acts from past seasons of “AGT” and the other “Got Talent” franchises” spanning 194 territories around the globe invited to participate in the spin-off “America’s Got Talent: The Champions.”
The finale of the spin-off came down to the two most recent “AGT” winners: Darci Lynne, the Season 12 victor, and reigning Season 13 winner Shin Lim, the close-up magic master who hails from Boston. Although she was eliminated in the initial rounds of competition, the OKC native was brought back on “The Champions” as a wild card, ultimately coming in second to Lim.
“I was very shocked. I was like, ‘OK, it’s OK.’ I was bummed out, but I was like, ‘All right, it’s OK, you tried your best.’ And then they came back and they were like ‘We want you back as a wild card.’ And it was like, ‘No way, I get a second chance? This is the coolest thing. I’m pumped,’” she recalled.
“I got to meet people from so many different countries and people that were super talented. And it was an awesome experience. I got to see some of my old AGT friends, and I ended up placing second, which was incredible and I never would have thought I’d do THAT. … Being second best in the whole world is a cool thing.”
In March, she made appearances as the local role model for the Barbie “Be Anything” Tour, part of the iconic doll’s 60th anniversary celebration.
“They were stopping at 18 cities, and Oklahoma City was one of them – and they wanted me to be their role model from Oklahoma City. I got to go and be interviewed and meet all the little girls and boys. … It was really inspiring and empowering to be there,” she said. “I never really would have thought that I’d be a role model for a bunch of kids in Oklahoma City, so to know that I am is a really awesome thought.”
The focus for Darci Lynne has been developing her live shows, which she said draw multigenerational crowds across the country. In addition, she just announced a new Oklahoma show Aug. 10 at Crystal Beach Stadium in Woodward.
“It does get tiring sometimes, but it’s been more fun than tiring. I love seeing the new places and meeting all the new people,” said the eighth-grader who will be heading to high school in August. “Once I step on the stage and people are laughing and they’re having a good time, I really enjoy it. I love singing. … I feed off of the audience. I ad-lib all the time. Audiences will do funny things, and it’s fun to work with that.”
Her concerts showcase her four current puppet partners – Katie the yodeling cowgirl, Oscar the soulful mouse, Edna Doorknocker the ornery old lady and Petunia the bunny diva – as well as the teenager singing unaccompanied by one of her puppet pals.
“My show really has a huge variety of song genres. Basically, I do opera, I do yodeling and country, I do Motown and I do pop. I do jazz a lot and it’s crazy. … I wouldn’t particularly listen to opera or yodeling songs. But that’s basically the personality of my puppets, maybe the songs they would listen to. That’s the songs they would sing,” Darci Lynne said.
“Singing with my mouth open is way different than with closed because I can actually get the right technical things that come along with singing, like saying your vowels right, opening your mouth at the right time. The breathing techniques are different. It’s definitely easier singing with my mouth open.”
She said she is excited to be home with her mom on Mother’s Day to show off her new routines and skills.
“Me and my mom might sing a song in the show together,” she said. “It’s a special occasion.”
"Darci Lynne and Friends: Fresh Out of the Box Tour”
When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
When: Aug. 10.
Where: Crystal Beach Stadium, Woodward.
Tickets: On sale at 10 a.m. Monday at www.showclix.com.