Celine Tam

America’s Got Talent singer Celine Tam and sister, 3, charm fans in live video session

America’s Got Talent contestant shows off origami skills, talks about her favourite things and answers questions in Cantonese, Putonghua and English

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2017, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 4:20pm

America’s Got Talent contestant Celine Tam Tsz-kwan can count international A-listers among her fans, but offstage the Hongkonger appears to be just a regular, energetic nine-year-old who loves eating chicken, hanging out with her sister and watching the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.

Celine and her three-year-old sister, Dion, played guessing games with fans, showed off their toys and sang songs during an hour-long live video session filmed in Hong Kong that was posted across her social media channels on Monday afternoon.

The pint-sized singer, who is through to the last 36 on the US TV talent show, fielded questions from viewers around the world, answering in a combination of Cantonese, Putonghua and English.

“More people recognise me, and of course I’m very happy, and people normally take pictures,” she said in response to a question about how her life had changed since she went on the show.

Asked why she loved singing, she replied: “I’m always singing. I’m like a bird.”

During the video session, Celine showed off her vocal abilities with a rendition of American singer Charlie Puth’s 2016 hit We Don’t Talk Anymore.

Fans also heard more about her favourite things. She loves summer and autumn, she thinks dogs are cute, she counts Finding Nemo among her favourite movies, and she loves playing basketball.

Meanwhile, younger sister Dion, who like her more famous sibling is named after Canadian singer Celine Dion, waved at fans, stuck out her tongue and made peace signs.

“You’re so cute!” Celine told her sister, cuddling her.

The nine-year-old also showed off her craft supplies and baseball cap collection, and gave viewers an origami tutorial.

“I love you!” she said in Putonghua as she signed off. “Thank you, goodbye!”

“You are both so adorable!” one viewer wrote on Instagram. “Dion, you too have a very sweet voice!” a Facebook user commented.

One viewer appeared protective of the child star, saying “She is not a radio,” in response to other internet users’ continuous song requests.

Celine shot to stardom in June when she belted out Celine Dion’s 1997 hit My Heart Will Go On during the America’s Got Talent auditions, a performance that has been viewed more than 27.6 million times on YouTube.

Since then, she has impressed music lovers all around the world, including notoriously tough judge Simon Cowell.

Last week, Celine added another supporter to her fan club: guest judge and Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox .

Cox was so impressed with Celine’s rendition of Michael Bolton’s 1983 ballad How Am I Supposed To Live Without You during last Tuesday’s episode that she used her “golden buzzer” to send Tam directly through to the live shows, leaving the young contestant open-mouthed in shock.

Judges are each given one chance to send an act directly through to the live shows, where they will compete against 35 other performers and groups to make it to the semi-finals. The live shows kick off next Tuesday, local time. The series winner will be announced in September, and win US$1 million.

Performers from around the world are allowed to compete on the show as long as they are in the United States legally at the time of the initial audition, according to the eligibility rules on the show’s website.

Celine’s path to fame has not been without controversy.

Her father, singing coach Steve Tam Shun-sang – who calls himself “Dr Steve” – has been accused of stealing singing students from a local celebrity, faking a doctoral degree and cashing in on his daughter’s success.

At the launch of his own album in June, Tam showed off his doctoral certificate and apologised to Hong Kong actress Nancy Sit Ka-yin, who had accused him of stealing her students.

Tam has been credited with coaching Celine, who has been singing since she was three years old.

In 2015, Celine also sang on the British version of the talent show, and at Hong Kong’s National Day reception in front of guests including then chief executive Leung Chun-ying.