Teen Singing Sensation
Charice Pempengco's dream of becoming a singer began halfway around the world in the Philippines. She found a following on the Internet after a stranger posted her jaw-dropping performances on YouTube.
Oprah's producers were among the 13 million people who logged on to watch this 16-year-old sensation sing songs made famous by artists like Celine Dion and Beyoncé. Then, in May 2008, Charice flew 15 hours to showcase her talent on The Oprah Show. She stole the show with a soul-stirring rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing."
Millions of viewers were moved by Charice's powerful voice—including Gayle King. "That evening Gayle called me," Oprah says. "She said she fell off her treadmill when she heard that girl." Oprah says the performance blew her Manolos off!
Charice's voice wasn't the only thing that impressed Oprah. "One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she's faced in her life, she's never given up on her dream of something better," Oprah says.
Charice says the argument escalated, and her dad grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at her mom. "My dad was about to shoot my mom, and I couldn't do anything," she says.
Neighbors heard screams and broke down the door just in time. Fraternidad, a former neighbor, remembers it clearly. "The gun [was] pointed to the mother and then the children are crying," she says.
Charice and her mother escaped with their lives. "We left my dad, and after that, I never saw him and I don't want to see him," she says. "I'm just singing now for my mom. I didn't help her before. That's why I want to help her now."
A few years later, Charice entered a singing contest. "Some people [were] saying that I'm not good enough and I'm not pretty," she says. "I just wanted to prove that they're wrong."
When Charice first decided to enter competitions, her mother was working 16 hours a day, six days a week at a garment factory. Charice signed up for more than 80 contests to help support her family. "I really want[ed] to help Mom," she says. "When I'm joining singing contests, and I won some $50, she was, like, 'Okay, we're going to have some food for one month, and we're very happy.'"
After years of struggling financially—even being homeless—Charice has been able to use her contest winnings to help her mother pay for an apartment in a nice neighborhood. Charice now has her own room where she can draw, sing, play the guitar and continue to dream. "I think this is a big improvement because we're more peaceful, and we're happy," she says.
Charice can now say her dreams are beginning to come true, starting with an introduction to one of the most famous names in the music business. After hearing Charice sing, Oprah just couldn't get the little girl with the big voice out of her head.
Instead of flying back to the Philippines after her appearance on The Oprah Show, producers pulled Charice off the plane and brought her back to Harpo Studios. Then, Oprah called legendary producer David Foster to see what the starmaker could do for Charice.
Charice then took the stage and sang three songs, including Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" to a crowd of 10,000. Her soul-stirring performance brought the audience to its feet. "A star is born tonight," David said.
More than 8,000 people gathered in the Tuscan countryside near Andrea's hometown for the exclusive concert. Together, they sang "The Prayer," a song that holds special meaning for Charice. "I think that God is always listening to all my prayers, and I have so many dreams in my life," she says. "That's why I'm always praying that someday I'm going to achieve all my dreams."
"The first song that I learned was 'My Heart Will Go On,'" Charice says. "Of course I want to sing with [Celine Dion] soon, I wish, someday."
Celine says watching Charice sing left her speechless. "I can tell you that we have lots of things in common. I was very shy too. And I also had a mother—still have a mother—who is my strength," Celine says. "You have more talent than most people. You can sing. You can speak and sing with your heart. You can play guitar. You can draw. And you can have dreams."
Because Charice shares so much of her talent with others, Celine wants to give Charice something in return. "I'm going to be singing at Madison Square Garden, and I would love to ask you to come and sing a duet with me," she says. "Maybe we can sing 'Because You Loved Me,' and maybe we can dedicate this song to your mother."
Now it's Charice who's left speechless! "Thank you, idol," she says.
Thirteen-year-old Andrew has been singing since he was 6 years old, though it hasn't been an easy road. Andrew admits he's often bullied at school. "They say they don't like that kind of music," Andrew says.
Still, Andrew keeps on singing. His operatic performance brings tears to judge Amanda Holden's eyes. "I really promised myself that I wasn't gonna cry on this show. I just was mesmerized by you," she says. "You could knock all those bullies out with that voice."
Even tough judge Simon Cowell is moved. "Andrew, I think you're better than you think you are," he says.
Andrew's heart and talent moved audiences in Britain. He placed third in the competition, and his performances are being enjoyed by millions of fans on YouTube.
Tyler says he's been working on his form since he was 2 years old and was inspired to start studying karate by his father, Tyler Sr. "It's very difficult, some of the moves that he does, but the young man just loves martial arts," he says. "He's been practicing all his life."
Watch Tyler's amazing talent.
Even as he's flying through the air performing his favorite move, the Corkscrew, Tyler says karate makes him feel centered. "[It] also teaches you how to have self-confidence," he says.
Despite all the accolades, Tyler doesn't let the attention go to his head. "[I feel] very proud of myself," he says. "I couldn't have done it without my family and my fans and my coaches and all the support."