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New Disney Docuseries “Choir” Aims to Amplify Voices of Inner-City Youth, Director Says (Exclusive)

"The vision behind this series was to allow the Detroit Youth Choir and these kids to speak for themselves," two-time Emmy winner Rudy Valdez, who directed the film, tells PEOPLE

Disney’s new docuseries Choir gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the beloved Detroit Youth Choir while giving them an opportunity to share their stories with their own voices.

Directed by two-time Emmy winner Rudy Valdez, the six-episode docuseries follows the young members of the DYC and director Anthony White as they prepare for an epic performance at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.

Valdez, who also serves as an executive producer, tells PEOPLE he wanted to tell their story through “a lens of beauty, hope [and] agency” while giving the members of the choir a voice, as well.

“The vision behind this series was to allow the Detroit Youth Choir and these kids to speak for themselves,” says Valdez. His goal, he adds, was to tell a story that avoided the “lens of poverty and despair” oftentimes associated with stories about people of color and inner cities, like Detroit.

<p>Disney/Zach Dilgard</p> The DYC performs at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan

Disney/Zach Dilgard

The DYC performs at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan

“Our stories are nuanced and deserving of a platform outside of the normal tropes,” the director explains.

The DYC gained attention on a national level in 2019 after appearing on the NBC reality competition show America’s Got Talent. They placed second overall in the competition after capturing the hearts of viewers nationwide with their renditions of popular songs.

After the show, the choir faced various challenges, including replacing multiple key members, staying relevant in Detroit and finding their next big opportunity.

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In Choir, viewers follow the DYC as they gear up for the opportunity and performance of a lifetime at Carnegie Hall while juggling their lives outside of the choir, including challenges surrounding family, school, athletics and general life growing up in Detroit.

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“I'm so proud of this project and the amazing team that worked with me to bring it to fruition,” Valdez tells PEOPLE.

<p>Disney/Brittany Greeson</p> Members of the CYD rehears ahead of performing at Carnegie Hall

Disney/Brittany Greeson

Members of the CYD rehears ahead of performing at Carnegie Hall

Through the DYC, members of the choir — who are between the ages of 8 and 18 — learn and develop skills “through music education, dance and theatrical arts,” according to their website.

Executive Producer Michael Seitzman of Maniac Productions tells PEOPLE that choir director Anthony White and his staff “figured out that talent isn't as important as heart.”

“They’ll find the talent in every one of these kids and nurture it and make it grow,” Seitzman says, “but the big lesson for these kids and for the rest of us is that the real magic is in commitment, passion and simply showing up.”

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Gretchen Palek, Head of Alternative/Blumhouse Television, echoes that statement, sharing, "Every member of the Detroit Youth Choir is pursuing a dream, and in that pursuit there are the inevitable highs and lows. As we chronicled the DYC's journey over the course of a season, we witnessed their passion, their unbreakable unity and their endless determination amid challenges, and their perseverance is nothing short of inspiring."

"At Imagine Documentaries, we love to highlight aspirational stories and especially those of talented young people doing the extraordinary," Sara Bernstein, President of Imagine Documentaries, further notes. "We're excited for the Disney+ audience to be inspired by the dedication Anthony White brings to helping the Detroit Youth Choir evolve into talented stars and exceptional community leaders."

Choir is available now on Disney+. The film is produced by Imagine Documentaries and Blumhouse Television.

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