12/08/06 — 11-year-old earns chance to sing for nation

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11-year-old earns chance to sing for nation

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on December 8, 2006 1:45 PM

Wayne County already knows Madeline Edwards can sing.

Come Monday morning, so will the rest of the country.

The Goldsboro 11-year-old will appear on CBS TV's The Early Show as part of its weekly "Living Room ... Live!" program, which features videos of talented young people from across the country, competing for online votes. The eventual winner will make a live appearance on the show.

Madeline, a sixth-grade student at Eastern Wayne Middle School, has already wowed Wayne County audiences with her vocal talent. She has sung at numerous churches, with StageStruck and the Center Stage Theater groups, has sung the national anthem at several of the Center Street Jams in downtown Goldsboro and was a featured soloist at a county choral showcase this week. Last night, she sang for a teachers' sorority party at the Goldsboro Country Club and on Sunday she will sing with a youth choral group at the state Capitol in Raleigh. Although the chorus at Eastern Wayne Middle School is made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, Madeline was chosen as its featured soloist.

Madeline says her ambition is to be a professional opera singer. Her video features a rendition of "O Mio Babbino Caro," by Puccini.

Although she looks a lot like any young girl, when Madeline opens her mouth to sing, it is a woman's voice that comes out -- full, strong, deep and resonant.

That could be why CBS producers asked for a second video of her singing. It's hard to believe that such a commanding voice can come from such a young girl.

Madeline said she first decided she wanted to become a classical singer when she was just 3 years old and heard Charlotte Church sing. Miss Church is one of the most popular classical singers in the world with millions of albums sold and has branched out into pop music and acting.

Madeline said she also enjoys acting and dancing, as well as art and writing.

She started performing before crowds at the age of 4 and last year started taking voice lessons from instructor Elaine Baker in Raleigh.

About a month ago, she decided she wanted to submit a video to CBS, just to see what might happen. With the help of her parents, Michael and Kelli, and her grandmother, Betsy, who also accompanies her on the piano, a short video was produced and shipped to New York.

She was sitting in her grandmother's car Wednesday when she got a call from her father, telling her that CBS had called to say to expect to see her perform on Monday's show.

"At first I screamed, then I was laughing and crying," she said. "I told a friend at school, and it spread around the sixth-grade classes. People were coming up to me and saying 'You're going to be on TV!"

Her father is philosophical about her chances. Classical music might not be the favorite of many viewers (a teenage rock band drew the most votes last week), and a young person from a more metropolitan area might get more votes simply because of where he or she lives, he said.

Still, they have high hopes that Madeline's talent will shine through.

Whatever happens, Madeline has her sights set on a singing career. She said she hopes to one day travel to Italy, where opera is far more popular than in the United States. Whatever she ends up doing, she said, it will have to have something to do with opera.

When she was asked what drives her to sing, her answer was simple -- the rest of the world melts away and there is nothing but the sound of the music.

"When I'm singing, nothing matters but the singing," she said.

Tune in Monday morning and listen for yourself. And don't forget to vote. Votes can be cast by going to www.cbsnews.com and must be sent in by Wednesday to be counted. The winner will be announced on Thursday's show.

And if talent counts, there could be a little Wayne County girl taking the national stage in a few weeks.