detroit choirThere is no question that Pharrell Williams' Oscar-nominated song "Happy" makes people, well ... happy. It's the kind of tune that can inspire the stiffest, stodgiest of people to let loose. It just makes you feel good. Now imagine a performance of it that's even better than any version the great Pharrell could ever do. Not possible, you say? Wait until you get a look at a Detroit elementary school's take on it. You will be astonished -- especially after you realize what those kids endure each day.

There isn't a lot happening in Detroit that actually makes people smile these days. It is one of the areas hit hardest by this failing economy. The employment rate is at 16 percent, and it has the highest violent crime rate of any U.S. metropolitan area. That's a sad reality for everyone who lives there, especially the littlest citizens. 

However, despite the bleak world that exists outside the doors of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, these children radiate happiness, hope, and joy. Take a look.

Uplifting, isn't it? By many accounts, Detroit is like a wasteland. I personally have many relatives that still live there and it's a struggle to survive. And that struggle has less to do with food and shelter than it does the rampant crime and violence. Many are afraid to venture from their homes at night. There are countless stories of carjackings at stoplights and break-ins even in broad daylight.

Some people may say, "Why don't they just move?" That is something those who can afford it do (the population is down 26 percent since 2000). But imagine if your life savings were tied up in a house that you couldn't sell. Who wants to buy in a place like that? No one. This is the reality facing a lot of parents who are desperate to give their children normal, happy childhoods even while surrounded by danger.

All that makes this video especially heartwarming. It's a great song and great choreography. More importantly, those are great, genuine smiles. What a lovely thing to brighten up everyone's day.

What do you think of this rendition of "Happy"?