Berkeley High’s Kehlani Parrish performs in AGT finals

Poplyfe: lead singer Kehlani Parrish (center) is a Junior at Berkeley High School

Kehlani Parrish, a 16-year-old Berkeley High junior, performed Tuesday night with her band Poplyfe in the finals of this season’s NBC show America’s Got Talent.

After a stunning run-up to the show’s finals in Las Vegas, Poplyfe got mixed reviews from the judges for their medley of Queen songs last night, and Parrish was in tears after the performance.

“I thought some of the performance of the singing was a bit off,” said judge Piers Morgan. “But you [Parrish] are a very, very talented performer.”

“You’re a star,” echoed Sharon Osbourne. “You have star quality.” Osbourne, Morgan and judge Howie Mandel all emphasized that voters should judge the group on their performances throughout the season and not just in the final.


Parrish, who AGT insiders regard as the break-out star of the band, has stood her ground throughout the competition, insisting when it was suggested that she should ditch her band-mates that “I don’t go without my brothers,” and succeeding in persuading judge Piers Morgan to give Poplyfe a standing ovation after their semi-final performance.

Parrish’s five band mates study at the Oakland School of the Arts and range in age from 11 to 15. There’s Dylan Wiggins, 13, on keyboards, Denzel Merrit, 12, on drums, Ranzel Merrit, 15, on sax, Jaden Wiggins, 11, on bass, DJ Ali-Khan Lochin, 15, and Dillion Ingrem, 13, on guitar. Producer D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony Toni Tone, father to both Dylan and Jaden, has been helping groom the band and it’s at his Oakland home that the band rehearse.

Last week in the semi-finals Poplyfe received an outpouring of praise from all three America’s Got Talent judges when they performed a foot-tapping medley of Jackson Five songs. Morgan said: “You are a great pop band, that’s what you are.”

Parrish told AGT News that she has recently reunited with her birth mother, after more than a decade of being shuffled from home to home. Watch how confident she is in a video interview she did with  AGTNews with her fellow band member Dylan Wiggins, and read a profile of the band over at Oakland Local.


The final results will be announced on tonight’s show at 8 p.m.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder and editorial director at Berkeleyside. Email: tracey@berkeleyside.com.