North Raleigh News

Wake Tech professor returns to classroom after ‘America’s Got Talent’

Demar Neal, a music professor at Wake Tech, was part of an opera-singing group that went through two rounds of “America's Got Talent.”
Demar Neal, a music professor at Wake Tech, was part of an opera-singing group that went through two rounds of “America's Got Talent.” mhankerson@newsobserver.com

Wake Tech music professor DeMar Neal started the school year with an exciting summer behind him.

Neal, 32, appeared on the TV show “America’s Got Talent,” competing for $1 million with three friends.

“I’m sure everyone will be looking at me, wanting to talk about ‘America’s Got Talent,’” Neal said of returning to his regular routine.

He was one member of the group Vox, which sang opera numbers and formed specifically for the show.

Vox’s run ended Aug. 4, after the second televised round of competition.

“At the end of the day, all you can do is go in there and do what you do best,” Neal said. “I thought we sang very well.”

Although it was exciting, it was also hard for Neal as a full-time faculty member at Wake Tech, where he teaches music appreciation and voice lessons.

Neal had to cancel classes without telling his students where he was going, until Vox’s first appearance aired in early July.

The filming schedule for “America’s Got Talent” was unpredictable, Neal said.

Producers didn’t always stay in touch with the group and sometimes filming took much longer than expected.

During one filming day, Vox was scheduled to perform at 10 a.m. but didn’t take the stage until 7 p.m., Neal said.

He said he prefers teaching to a hectic filming schedule.

“I like the regularity of an academic environment,” Neal said. “It’s comforting.”

The ‘classiest boy band’

Neal, 32, grew up in Statesville and attended UNC-Chapel Hill for his undergraduate studies in music. He went on to attend the Boston Music Conservatory and Florida State University, where he met fellow Vox member Kevin Blickfeldt.

Blickfeldt went on to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he met Arnold Geis and David Castillo, the other two members of Vox.

After Vox’s first performance, each of the celebrity judges – radio show host Howard Stern, former Spice Girl Mel B, model Heidi Klum and TV host Howie Mandel – gave the group a “yes” to move on to the next round.

The friends appeared to be a typical singing group but surprised judges by performing opera.

“We liked the idea of presenting a visual image and surprising them with the sound,” Neal said.

Mandel said their appearance and performance would make them the “classiest boy band there is.”

Vox never made it to a round that was open for viewer voting, but the group has built a following on social media and has plans to continue performing together.

The group has fans as far as Russia, Neal said, and one of their most dedicated fans is a truck driver.

Although Neal is the only member based on the East Coast, Vox is working to create a schedule for performances in the coming year. On their Facebook page, they’ve also mentioned recording music together.

“There’s still plenty to go on,” Neal said.

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh

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