This was posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Angelica Hale of Johns Creek is a pixie sweet 10-year-old girl super excited about her new baby sister Abigail, who is all of three weeks old.
She is also in the running this week to win $1 million on the most popular summer TV show, "America's Got Talent" on NBC, thanks to a soaring voice that is almost unworldly coming from such a tiny package.
"She's almost freakishly talented," said her piano teacher Warren Woodruff of Buckhead, who describes himself as a musicologist and fantasy author. "The joy she has that you see on the television, I see it every week. It's so real. It's not staged."
Angelica did not get her vocal gifts from her parents James and Eva.
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“We definitely did not have to push her,” James said. “This is her passion. If she didn’t enjoy doing this, then she wouldn’t be where she is today."
He said at age two, she became obsessed with the Lady Antebellum song "Need You Now," though he had to modify some of the lyrics about drinking to suit her.
Two years later, she almost died. At age four, Angelica got double pneumonia and her kidneys shut down. She had to be on dialysis for 18 months before her mom was matched and donated her kidney to save her daughter.
Woodruff said that near-death experience has shaped her appreciation for life in general. "She can really teach the adult generation a thing or two," he said. "To her, life is precious. She grasps things people take for granted. I have never met anyone like her before. She's warm, adorable and funny as heck."
James, her father, frequently reminds her not to let the fame and attention get to her head, that he tries to keep her grounded. "She wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth," he said. "She's had to earn everything she's got today."
Indeed, she has performed all over the country, singing the National Anthem at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, the U.S. Open before Roger Federer in New York City and the third Atlanta Braves game this year at SunTrust Park.
Woodruff said Angelica sees musical powers as transferable. "She can use the power that she knows music has to bring inspiration to other people," he said. "She really has a mission with her music, not just something she does to show off."
Indeed, her song pick last week to get her in the finals was indicative of that: David Guetta's "Without You." (She said she listened more to the "Glee" version.)
"The song has such a great message," Angelica said in an interview Friday from Los Angeles. "I couldn't do this without America. It was dedicated to everyone who voted for me. It had such amazing notes. I loved it!"
Woodruff considered her last performance her best to date. "She knew how to keep the cohesiveness of the entire piece from first note to last note," he said. "She turned it into a narrative. She doesn't just do the big diva stuff. Every note means something to her."
So far, Angelica has sung four times on "America's Got Talent," receiving raves almost across the board. During her first audition taped earlier this year, the audience immediately reacted positively with the first few notes of her heartfelt Audra Day's "Rise Up" and before the chorus, the crowd had risen to its feet en masse.
Angelica was in tears by the end as judge Howie Mandel said, "OMG!" Fellow judge Simon Cowell said: "You're tiny. Your voice is huge. We may be looking at a star in the future."
During round two, her self-assured take on Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire" inspired guest judge Chris Hardwick to give her the "Golden Buzzer," guaranteeing her a spot in the live rounds.
In the quarterfinal round, she crooned Zedd's "Clarity" with real clarity and cruised into the top 22. Now she's in the final 10 and she said she's ready for the spotlight on Tuesday.
"It's amazing just to be here," she said. "No matter what, win or lose, I'm still a winner."
If Angelica pockets the top prize money, she plans to donate some to Children's Miracle Network, which raises funds for children's hospitals and related medical research. (They helped save her life six years ago.) And she'd love to see Paris.
"I want to make songs and create albums and that'd be super awesome!" she added.
"America's Got Talent," 8 p.m. performance show, Tuesday; finals 8 p.m. Wednesday, NBC