Nightbirde: A Tribute
A reflection on the legacy of “America’s Got Talent” star Nightbirde
Written by Andrea Brazis
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
Jane Marczewski was a contestant on season 16 of the well-known reality TV show “America’s Got Talent.” Marczewski went by Nightbirde whenever she was on stage — this name quickly filled headlines. From the moment Nightbirde stepped on stage, there was magic, joy. She was a singer and a songwriter, and a beautiful one at that; she won over the audience with a smile and a humility.
One of the first things we learned about her, from the show, was that she was battling cancer. At the time the show aired, she had cancer spreading into her spine and liver. Moments after stepping on stage, she said, “It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me.” She didn’t accept pity; she used her weaknesses to her advantage. She became an advocate for people all over the world: the hopeful and the hopeless.
From the moment Nightbirde stepped on stage, there was magic, joy.
She put on a beautiful performance, one that inspired and captivated the audience; she tapped into every person’s emotions and connected her heart to everyone around her. In her AGT audition, Nightbirde performed an original song she had written called “It’s OK.” She wrote “It’s OK” to reflect on the past year of her life, specifically her physical and mental struggles whilst battling cancer. The lyrics express her deepest emotions, painting a tragically realistic image of what her life was like during that time.
One specific line of the song is repeated throughout: “If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright.” She strived to give assurance to those who felt alone, she was an advocate of love. Post-performance, she received the Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell. Shortly after this performance, she said, “I have 2% chance of survival, but 2% is not 0%.” Not many people in the world embody her positivity, her courage, her strength. Although almost every odd was against her, she persisted in her journey, she embodied bravery.
She didn’t accept pity; she used her weaknesses to her advantage. She became an advocate for people all over the world: the hopeful and the hopeless.
Shortly after auditioning and performing, Nightbirde had to leave the show. Her health started deteriorating, and she needed to make her health the top priority. The overwhelming love and support she received from her fans was unmatched.
On February 19, 2022, at age 31, Jane Marczewski (Nightbirde) passed away after a 4-year battle with cancer.
She strived to give assurance to those who felt alone, she was an advocate of love.
Her family made a statement, regarding Nightbirde’s death, saying, “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.”
Shortly after her performance of “It’s OK” aired to the public, it gained global popularity, reaching 2.1 million streams and 27 million views in no time, on YouTube alone.
Although almost every odd was against her, she persisted in her journey, she embodied bravery.
Let’s take a journey to the past, dive into the roots of what spurred Jane to become Nightbirde.
Nightbirde was born on Monday, December 13, 1990 in Zanesville, OH, which is a little over two hours away from Cleveland. She was born into a kind and supportive family, consisting of her parents and six siblings. She was incredibly close to her entire family, especially her brother Mitch. After Nightbirde was diagnosed with cancer, her siblings also shaved their heads in support of her.
The overwhelming love and support she received from her fans was unmatched.
She was also a passionate Christian and found peace and joy in her faith. Through her trials and medical interventions, she still shared her faith with those around her. She was always excited to tell those around her about Jesus. In an Instagram post, Nightbirde admitted that her circumstances were confusing and sometimes frustrating, but her trust in God and His plans never wavered. She noted that she was never ashamed of her faith and she knew that God loved her no matter the circumstances she was in. She said, “Life is complicated and friendship with God does not make it less complicated. But as I get older, I am realizing that I would not have it any other way.” When life became too stressful or overbearing, she would pray to seek peace.
In the same post, Nightbirde said, “Still, sometimes life is too much to bear. Occasionally an extreme circumstance interjects itself into your life and your ‘live, laugh, love’ sign proves to be even more absurd than it normally does,” she continued, “forgive me if this offends you but I have a better friendship with God because I remain soft hearted and tender toward Him in a life where sometimes nothing makes sense.”
Since faith played such an important role in her life, it only makes sense that she attended a Christian college, Liberty University, which is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Throughout her college experience, she developed and strengthened her love of music and performing. She would perform in local venues around campus, in addition to leading the worship team at her own church.
She encouraged people to live in the moment — to make the most of life.
In fall of 2015, Nightbirde married Jeremy Claudio, whom she had a six-month engagement with. The marriage lasted about four years, until they divorced towards the end of 2019.
In September of 2017, during her marriage and the start of her musical career, Marczewksi was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. After the diagnosis, she had said, “There’s a lot of emotions that come with that — a cycle of grief. But going through that, being dangled over a cliff in that way, gives you a lot of perspective on how important it is to do the thing that you love and feel like you were made to do here on the planet. It gives you a lot more courage to take risks.”
She encouraged people to live in the moment — to make the most of life. The most important reminder she gives is that our time is limited, saying, “I just stopped caring as much about making something perfect, and I just wanted to make something for the joy of making it.”
In March of 2019, Nightbirde dropped her first single called “Girl in a Bubble.” This song reflected how she viewed her abnormal life in comparison to how others viewed their normal lives. In a way, she felt disconnected from the world; she felt present yet missing at the same time. This is also around the same time that Marczewski chose her stage name. For a few nights, she had dreamt about birds singing in the dark. On one of these nights, she woke up to see birds singing outside; she felt peaceful and hopeful. She said, “I want to be that way, even when I am in the middle of a dark time and there are no signs that it will end; I want to be the bird that sings in anticipation of the good things that I trust are coming.”
Nightbirde was a beautiful soul inside and out. She gave the world the greatest gift possible: hope.