Is this the end of nine-year-old Hong Kong singer Celine Tam’s meteoric rise?
America’s Got Talent judge Mel B wonders if power ballad When You Believe was right choice for little contestant with big voice
Pint-sized songbird Celine Tam’s speedy ascent to fame looked unstoppable, but on a stage decorated to look like a glittering rose garden, she hit her first snag.
The nine-year-old singer from Hong Kong took to the America’s Got Talent stage for the third time on Tuesday night, US time, this time singing live to air.
Her performances have won plaudits from judges and international fans alike, but on Tuesday’s show, judge and former Spice Girl Mel B questioned if the Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey power ballad When You Believe was too big for the primary schooler.
Most of the audience appeared to disagree as they stood and cheered for Celine, who had donned a floral-themed outfit for the occasion.
“The prettiest set for the prettiest princess. We’re watching Celine Tam blossom before our eyes,” the official America’s Got Talent account tweeted.
“Everyone in the Dolby Theatre was standing before that performance even ended.”
On Twitter, some agreed that the song choice was not the best for Celine.
“Wrong song choice. She’s crazy talented, but it didn’t work tonight,” one internet user said.
Others were still won over by the tiny singer with a huge voice.
Hong Kong singing sensation Celine Tam to take on fellow youngsters on America’s Got Talent live shows
“You killed it! You are in a league all of your own,” one tweeted.
“Makes me rethink what I was doing at 9 years old,” another wrote.
It will now be up to the American public to vote on which seven acts they want to go through to the top 21 – and which acts they want to send home. The results will be announced live on Wednesday night, US time.
Celine’s fans back home will not be able to have their say, as voting is open only to US viewers.
If Celine makes it through to the semi-finals, she will face off against 12-year-old ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer and 10-year-old singer Angelica Hale, who were both sent through to the semi-finals last week. Just before her live show on Tuesday, Celine posted a picture of herself and Angelica, saying she hoped they could sing together one day.
The series winner, who will take home US$1 million, will be announced in September.
Whatever the outcome, Celine appears to have been making the most of her time in the United States, if her social media posts are anything to go by.
The nine-year-old has indulged in good food, met fellow contestants, played with her three-year-old sister Dion in their hotel room – and even done her homework, according to her Facebook posts.
Celine first shot to stardom in June when she sung her namesake Celine Dion’s hit My Heart Will Go On during the show’s auditions, a performance which has now been viewed over 30 million times on YouTube. Since then, she has impressed music lovers around the world, including Canadian songstress Dion herself, who tweeted that Celine was “adorable!”
She also won plaudits from Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox for her rendition of Michael Bolton’s 1983 ballad How Am I Supposed To Live Without You earlier this month.
Celine began singing at age three, and was coached by her father, singing teacher Steve Tam Shun-sang, who calls himself “Dr Steve”.
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.