Nov 10, 2013 11:41 PM EST | Louise Burton
Amira Willighagen, age 9, sang Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro" during a recent audition for Holland's Got Talent. Her performance stunned the judges, who found it hard to believe that such a lovely, mature-sounding voice could come from such a small girl.
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"Are you really nine years old?" judge Chantal Janzen asked her. "This is incredible."
Even more amazing is her statement that she is completely self-taught. Willighagen says that she learned how to sing by watching YouTube videos. "My brother Vincent plays violin, and I also wanted to do something," she told the judges. "...so I thought, I'm going to sing...and then I heard opera songs, which I found very beautiful. And that's when I started singing," she said.
After Willighagen's performance, the judges awarded her a coveted "golden ticket" to advance to the live finals of Holland's Got Talent, a spin-off of Simon Cowell's delightfully tacky original, America's Got Talent.
Word is that Cowell was very impressed with her performance, as well. "What a total star," he tweeted on November 1.
It's interesting that she should choose the same song that Jackie Evancho sang on America's Got Talent in 2010, a performance that made Evancho a celebrity at age 10. Comparison between the two young singers is inevitable.
Evancho eventually won runner-up on America's Got Talent, signing with Columbia Records shortly thereafter. Her holiday EP, O Holy Night, came out in November 2010 and went platinum. In June 2011, Evancho's studio album Dream with Me debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Billboard named Evancho the top Classical Albums Artist for 2011. At age 11, Evancho was the youngest artist to present a solo concert at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, as part of her Dream with Me tour.
Evancho's accomplishments are impressive, but now, it seems, she has competition. There's always another one warming up in the wings...
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