Celine Tam

Fans outraged as Hong Kong child star Celine Tam fails to reach finals of America’s Got Talent

Nine-year-old singer’s semi-final performance did not score enough votes from US viewers after judges gave it mixed reviews

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 9:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 11:04pm

She can count her namesake Celine Dion as a fan and has captured the hearts of people the world over, but that was not enough to send nine-year-old Hong Kong singer Celine Tam Tsz-kwan to the America’s Got Talent finals.

The child star’s dream run came to an end on Wednesday night, US time, when she found out on live television that she had not scored enough votes to make it to next week’s final.

On Tuesday night, Celine won the admiration of notoriously tough judge Simon Cowell but copped criticism for a second time from former Spice Girl Mel B for choosing to sing Auli’i Cravalho’s Oscar-nominated hit How Far I’ll Go, from the Disney movie Moana.

After her performance, Celine took to social media to thank her fans.

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“How Far I’ll Go depends on your vote!” she wrote on Facebook.

In the end, the American voting public appeared to agree with Mel B.

But it was not the end for all the child stars in the competition – 10-year-old Angelica Hale, often seen by online commenters as Celine’s main rival on the show – was sent through to the finals.

Ten acts will compete next week for the title and the grand prize of US$1 million.

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A number of Celine’s fans took to social media, saying they were “outraged” about her not making the cut.

America’s Got Talent is rigged. I won’t be watching any more! I turned off the TV,” one tweeted.

“How could Celine not make the finals?” another asked.

Psychologist Michael Eason, who works at a private psychology practice in Hong Kong, said Celine would probably return to normal life easily as children tended to live in the moment – but it might be more difficult for her father and other adults to adjust.

“She has accomplished this major thing, so she may be a celebrity just by getting this far,” he said.

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“She could come home with a sense of ‘I’ve accomplished this major thing’, or she could come home with a sense of being a failure, which I hope she doesn’t.”

Celine shot to stardom in June, when a clip of her audition, in which she sang Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, went viral.

She has since performed on the America’s Got Talent stage twice more, winning praise from Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox for her rendition of Michael Bolton’s How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, but copping criticism from former Spice Girl Mel B after belting out Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s ballad When You Believe, from the movie The Prince of Egypt.

Celine began singing at the age of 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.