Jane Marczewski, the America’s Got Talent contestant whose joy-filled optimism and strong Christian faith inspired a nationwide television audience, died Sunday following a battle with cancer. She was 31.
Also known as Nightbirde, the Liberty University graduate wowed the AGT judges last year with a powerful rendition of an original song, It’s OK. Marczewski received a standing ovation from the audience and a “golden buzzer” from the judges – automatically advancing her to the semifinals, which are broadcast live. Her condition, though, worsened, preventing her from singing in the semis.
Judge Simon Cowell called her voice “absolutely stunning.” A YouTube video of her performance garnered more than 40 million views. Marczewski blogged about her life and faith on her website, Nightbirde.co.
“It is with the deepest heartache that we confirm that after a four-year battle with cancer, Jane Marczewski, known to many of you as Nightbirde, passed away on February 19th, 2022,” her family said in a statement. “... Those who knew her, enjoyed her larger-than-life personality and sense of humor. She had a witty joke for every occasion – even if the joke was on her. Her lasting legacy will be the gift of hope she gave to so many through her music and the strength she found in Jesus. We thank everyone for their messages of love and support.”
She opened for Tori Kelly at a concert in 2019. Months later, she was diagnosed with cancer and given a 2 percent chance to live. Wearing a big smile, she told the AGT judges last year, “Two percent is not zero percent. Two percent is something. And I wish people knew how amazing it is.”
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy,” she said, smiling.
Marczewski was profiled in 2019 in the Liberty Journal. She graduated from the Christian school in 2013.
In a March 2021 blog, she discussed how her faith was impacted during a bout of sickness. She said she spent many sleepless nights in the bathroom, vomiting, crying and screaming. Sometimes, she wrote, she fell asleep there, her head propped on the toilet.
“Call me cursed, call me lost, call me scorned. But that’s not all. Call me chosen, blessed, sought-after. Call me the one who God whispers his secrets to,” she wrote. “I am the one whose belly is filled with loaves of mercy that were hidden for me. Even on days when I’m not so sick, sometimes I go lay on the mat in the afternoon light to listen for Him. I know it sounds crazy, and I can’t really explain it, but God is in there even now. I have heard it said that some people can’t see God because they won’t look low enough, and it’s true. If you can’t see him, look lower. God is on the bathroom floor.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Golubovy
Video courtesy: ©Amercia's Got Talent
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.