Angelica Hale’s vocal coach: ‘She hit every single mark I asked her to hit’

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Finale Results” Episode 1224 — Pictured: (l-r) Kelly Clarkson, Angelica Hale, Kechi — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

This was posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Angelica Hale of Johns Creek was not an overnight sensation. The ten-year-old vocal prodigy had been spending years in vocal training to get to the point of almost winning “America’s Got Talent” Wednesday night.

Tricia Grey, a vocal coach for 40 years with studios in Alpharetta and East Cobb, began working with Hale when she was just five years old.

At first, Grey was reluctant to take her on given her young age but she realized quickly that Hale was a fast learner.

“I’d give her something and she’d get it right away,” Grey said. “Someone else would have to practice things she’d pick up scary quick. I’ve never seen a child do that.”

Angelica’s work ethic is unparalleled, she added. “She never missed a lesson all these years,” Grey said. “She never phones it in. She’s never tired. She’s never bored even doing vocal exercises. She’d go home and work and work. Being a singer is like being an athlete. There’s a reason she has this ability to sing from the heart. She’s not worried if her voice is going to work. She knows it’s going to work. She put in the work to get it there.”

Earlier this year, Angelica’s parents James and Eva hired vocal coach Tara Simon, who has a studio in Smyrna and has experience in reality TV. Simon competed season two of the U.S. version of “The X Factor” in 2012 on Fox.

Simon came aboard after Angelica got past the first round. Via Facetime sessions, she helped Angelica shape her next four performances, including the finale. Simon said they had a month to practice the quarterfinal and semifinal performances but only five days to do “Symphony” for the finals.

“I helped designed the melodic mapping of the song and made sure she was singing with proper technique to get through such difficult material,” Simon said.  She liked the Clean Bandit song because “it showed her off in all the right places, not just in the big hook.”

Simon said she was performing herself at 5Church restaurant in Midtown on Tuesday night and locked herself in the women’s bathroom to watch Angelica’s performance.

“I was jumping up and down and screaming in the bathroom while she was on,” she said. “When I opened the door, five women were staring me down.”

Simon has nothing but admiration for Angelica. “I call her my little unicorn. I’ve never asked her to do something she didn’t shy away from. The kid is so courageous and a joy. I can be picky and she loves it. She thrives on it.”

She also gives kudos to Angelica’s parents. “They’re all in. Angelica is all in. There is a trifecta between parents and child. I’m grateful they entrust such a special little girl to me. It’s a calling I don’t take lightly.”

While Simon is able to teach someone like Angelica all the technical aspects of singing, she can’t create the artistry. “That I believe is channeled from a higher place,” she said. “My job is to facilitate that and take away anything that might impede that freedom.”

Warren Woodruff, a classical music specialist who teaches Angelica musicality and piano, was blown away by her last performance. “I think she outdid herself once more,” he said.

He also said despite the fact Angelica didn’t win the $1 million prize, she got just as much airtime as the winner, 12-year-old ventriloquist singer Darci Lynne Farmer.

“She has so many engagements lined up, she’ll be fine,” he said.

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