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Donald Braswell (born 22 February 1963) was the fourth place winner of the 2008 season of America's Got Talent, placing behind Neal E. Boyd, Eli Mattson and Nuttin' But Stringz.


Biography

Donald Braswell, a native of Texas, was born to performing artist parents and has been singing since the age of seven. He has displayed an interest in theater and music since childhood and aspired to become an actor. While in high school, he would participate in local theater groups at night without telling anyone; he preferred not to display his "aesthetic side."

Upon graduation from high school, Braswell was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard Schoolmarker in New York Citymarker. There, he began his professional training as an operatic tenor. Afterwards, he received a grant from the The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation which allowed him the opportunity to train with renowned Italian tenor Franco Corelli as well as Franco Bertacci, Artistic Director of the Lyric Orchestra in Florida. During his career as a professional opera singer, he played many canonical lyric and spinto tenor roles, including the Duke of Mantua from Rigoletto, Mario Cavaradossi from Tosca and Lieutenant Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly.

Car Accident

In 1995, while traveling with the Welsh National Opera, Braswell was involved in a car accident which damaged the soft tissues in his throat and was told by doctors that he might not be able to sing or speak normally again. Despite the odds, he worked diligently not only to regain the use of his speaking voice but also to resume his musical career.

America's Got Talent

see also America's Got Talent

In June 2008, Braswell auditioned for the third season of NBC's America's Got Talent. During his first audition, he performed "You Raise Me Up" from Josh Groban. Initially, the audience was hostile, collectively shouting to get him off the stage. During the second refrain of the song, however, Braswell was able to turn the audience's reaction around and when he finished, the audience gave him a standing ovation, even chanting "Vegas!" in unison, expressing their support for his advancement to the next round in Las Vegasmarker.

Braswell, gave the impression that he had not performed on stage since his car accident in 1995, and his dream was for his children to be able to see him perform. However, he frequently performed in his hometown of San Antonio, TX both as a single performer, and in a group known as "The Three San Antonio Tenors" in the years between his accident and his appearance on America's Got Talent.

In Las Vegas, he performed "Lost" by Michael Bublé and was eliminated by the judges, keeping him from joining the Top 40. However, when the Russian Bar Trio suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the competition, the judges chose eight of the eliminated acts for a chance to become the wildcard act. Viewers then voted for their favorite act, thus bringing Braswell back into the competition.

Upon returning to the competition, he continued to advance every week until he won a spot in the Top 5. There, he once again performed his original audition piece, "You Raise Me Up." One week later, he won fourth place. Before the final places were announced, pre-recorded videos were shown of various celebrities' support for their favorite acts. In these videos, Andrew Lloyd Webber congratulated Braswell on his performance of Lloyd Webber's composition "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera and stated that he would love to work with Braswell some day.

Performances/Results

Week Theme Song

choice
Original

artist
Performance

order
Result
Audition N/A "You Raise Me Up" Josh Groban N/A Advanced
Vegas Verdicts Classical singers "Lost" Michael Bublé 2 Eliminated
Top 40 Wild Card N/A N/A N/A Advanced
Top 40

Group 4
N/A "The Impossible Dream" Man of La Mancha 6 Advanced
Top 20

Group 2
Heroes "The Music of the Night" The Phantom of the Opera 2 Advanced
Top 10 N/A "To Where You Are" Josh Groban N/A Advanced
Top 5 N/A "You Raise Me Up" Josh Groban N/A 4th Place


Albums

  • 2007: New Chapter


In May 2007, Braswell released his first studio album, New Chapter. The album contains Pop standards, renowned classics from musical theater, and pieces from the classical and sacred repertoire.



After America's Got Talent

On October 17, 2008, Braswell joined the Top 10 finalists from America's Got Talent to perform at the MGM Grand Garden Arenamarker.

On November 2, 2008, he gave a performance in his hometown of San Antonio, dedicating his debut concert to the people who supported him through his journey. The performance featured a variety of musical genres, including classical and theatrical.

In February 2009, Braswell performed in a sold-out concert at the Las Vegas Hilton. This success was followed one month later by a live PBS concert broadcast from Detroitmarker. In these recent performances, he demonstrated more of his musical versatility with interpretations of pop and soul as well as impersonations of Elvis and Dean Martin.

Philanthropy

In January 2009, Braswell and his family participated with San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries in giving a concert whose proceeds went to benefit the homeless of San Antonio. In June he did another concert for them, this time in a 1,700-seat sanctuary. On June 27, he launched the 2009-2010 concert season for Symphony of the Hills, an orchestra based in Schreiner University and consists of members from all over the Texas Hill Country. Proceeds from this concert will fund scholarships for students at Schreiner.

References

  1. "Semifinals, Part 1." America's Got Talent. 2008-08-26. No. 10, season 3.
  2. "Top 5." America's Got Talent. 2008-09-24. No. 19, season 3.
  3. "Final Results" America's Got Talent. 2008-10-01. No. 20, season 3.
  4. http://www.donaldbraswellfanclub.org/calendar.html Donald Braswell Events Calendar
  5. http://www.donaldbraswellfanclub.org/files/Braswellian_Star_2009_05_May.pdf Braswellian Star, the International Fan Club Newsletter, May 2009.
  6. http://www.samm.org SAMMinistries
  7. http://www.symphonyofthehills.org Symphony of the Hills


External links




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