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May 5, 2008
Sweet smile, shy child
Little Connie captured the hearts of British TV viewers after she sang in a talent contest. Ardent fans called her at 5am to ask if she's upset about not winning
By Bernard Koh
HOME-GROWN TALENT: Hailed as the next Charlotte Church, Connie Talbot (above) never had formal singing lessons; instead she honed her skills on a karaoke machine at home. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
CONNIE Talbot was only six years old when she entered television talent competition Britain's Got Talent last year.

Her rendition of classics such as Judy Garland's Over The Rainbow and Michael Jackson's Ben melted the icy heart of one of the judges, Simon Cowell, and stunned viewers worldwide.

Even though she lost to opera tenor Paul Potts in the finals, videos of her performances have received over 30 million hits on YouTube.

Last week, the tiny girl, who has no formal training in singing, made her way around Asia with her parents, visiting Seoul, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong to meet fans and promote her debut album, Over The Rainbow.

So, the hype over the seven-year-old singer must seem surreal for the Talbots, right?

Her mother, Mrs Sharon Talbot, 38, tells Life! firmly: 'Everything's still the same. At home, we treat Connie the same as any other seven-year-old. We tell her she's lucky but not any more special than the other kids. And she says, 'I know that, Mum.' '

Still, the Talbots, who have two older children, find themselves having to fend off some fans. They had to change their telephone number back home in the West Midlands, in England.

They say concerned fans have rung them up at odd hours such as 5am, to ask if little Connie was not too upset about coming in second in the television reality series.

Her father Gavin Talbot, 40, who is self-employed in property maintenance, says: 'We're just normal people who have our names listed in the phone directory.'

Connie is shy almost to a fault.

Ask if she understands the songs she sings and her eyes dart to her minder. When she's at a loss for words, she gives hearty shrugs and bright smiles in response.

But she does say that her favourite singer is Leona Lewis, winner of The X Factor, another British television talent show.

She says: 'If I met her, I would say, 'Hello. You sing really well', and tell her how nice she is.'

What about American singer Britney Spears?

'She's nice too.'

Have her parents warned her about the pitfalls of the entertainment industry?

Mrs Talbot says: 'We don't know what to warn her about. We just go with the flow. I've asked her to tell me if she wants to stop it all - the autograph sessions, the interviews - and whether she'd like to do it when she's older, maybe 18.

'But she tells me she wants to do it now, that she's happy singing and making the world happy. But once she's had enough, all this will stop.'

bernkoh@sph.com.sg

Connie Talbot's Over The Rainbow is out in stores.

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