Celine Tam

Hong Kong singing sensation Celine Tam to take on fellow youngsters on America’s Got Talent live shows

Nine-year-old urged to remember the basics and ‘be in the moment’ as TV talent show’s final stages draw near

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 4:21pm

The “cute factor” has helped nine-year-old singing sensation Celine Tam Tsz-kwan win hearts around the world, but she’ll have stiff competition to be most adorable when she faces off against at least five other primary school-age stars in the next stage of America’s Got Talent.

The pint-sized star is through to the live shows on the US television talent show, where she will compete against 35 other acts, including magicians, dance troupes and even a Donald Trump impersonator.

But there are other young competitors in the mix, including at least five who are also under 12.

The youngest to get through to the final 36 were tiny dance duo Artyon Celestine, 9, and Paige Glenn, 8, who were sent through to the next round on Tuesday night’s episode after doing a routine inspired by the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

Next is Angelica Hale, a 10-year-old with a powerful voice – and a history of overcoming medical challenges – who was sent through after belting out Andra Day’s Rise Up. Hale contracted pneumonia as a four-year-old, and had to have a kidney transplant two years later.

Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer, 12, wowed judges with her “duet” of jazz classic Summertime, performed with a pink puppet rabbit named Petunia.

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Merrick Hanna, 12, also impressed with a robotic dance to Lindsey Stirling’s Something Wild.

Among teenaged stars who made the cut were young singers Angelina Green, 13, and Evie Clair, 14.

And 17-year-old singer Christian Guardino will join them in the final round.

This year’s young stars follow a string of child contestants in the past, including singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal, who won the show’s previous season while only 12 years old. Bianca Ryan won the first season of the show in 2006, aged 11.

The 36 acts will face off in a bid to make it to the semi-finals, while the series winner, who will take home US$1 million, will be announced in September.

Imogen Taylor and Kaijah Bell, directors of Hong Kong performing arts company CentreStage Studios, which has about 750 young pupils, said Celine’s confidence and warmth on stage were “infectious to watch”.

“All of the young performers in the competition are super talented and each have a very different style of singing, which provides for captivating viewing,” they said.

“As one of the youngest in the competition, Celine has wonderful stage presence and a true ‘sparkle’ behind the eyes and clearly a hunger to succeed, which is the tool for success in this highly competitive industry.”

Long rehearsal processes could sometimes make performances mechanical, they said, advising Celine to try to “be in the moment” when on stage and properly warm up and warm down her voice to avoid damaging her vocal chords.

Celine Tam and sister, 3, charm fans in live video session

Celine captured hearts around the world when she sang Canadian singer Celine Dion’s 1997 hit My Heart Will Go On during the show’s auditions, a performance that has been viewed more than 28 million times on YouTube.

That performance even prompted a tweet from Dion herself, who commented “adorable!”

Celine Tam and her three-year-old sister Dion were both named after the star.

How young stars got the golden buzzer

The judges on America’s Got Talent each get one chance to send an act directly through to the live shows, and they do so by hitting the “golden buzzer”. The young stars who have won golden buzzers this season are:

Darci Lynne Farmer, 12, awarded the golden buzzer by judge and former Spice Girls singer Mel B

Christian Guardino, 17, awarded by judge and Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel

Angelina Green, 13, awarded by judge and supermodel Heidi Klum

Angelica Hale, 10, awarded by guest judge and comedian Chris Hardwick

Celine Tam, 9, awarded by guest judge and Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox