Entertainment | Celebrity

Connie Talbot: Little girl with the big voice

Connie Talbot isn't a star in her home country, says Kathryn Knight, but that's not keeping the ten-year-old Brit from the world's stage

  • By Kathryn Knight, Daily Mail
  • Published: 00:00 February 24, 2011
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Connie Talbot
  • Image Credit: Rex Features
  • Connie Talbot first enchanted the public and Simon Cowell throughout the first series of Britain's Got Talent in 2007.
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In Korea, she's a superstar. In China, she's about to sing to 400 million. Oh, and George Clooney's proposed to her. So why hasn't Britain recognised ten-year-old Connie's true talent? 

Most parents will be wearily familiar with the frantic juggling required to maintain the schedule of the average modern miss. Between their ten-year-old daughter's netball practice and drama club and choir commitments, not to mention her schooling, Sharon and Gavin Talbot are forever shuttling back and forth from their home in Birmingham trying to keep up.

There are a few other arrangements, however, that aren't quite so typical. Like the trip to Korea for an engagement at the G20 summit in December, and an appointment with the 400 million or so viewers of national state television in China. Not to mention an appearance on chat show queen Oprah Winfrey's talk show and the giant charity bash in Germany that ended with a marriage proposal from George Clooney.

But then ten- year-old Connie Talbot is quite the international singing sensation, in demand all over the world. She's had more than 300 million hits on YouTube and in the Far East, in particular, she's something of an icon. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, Brazil, Mexico and the US you name it, Connie's a star there.

In fact Connie is in huge demand across the globe everywhere, that is, apart from her native Britain. There, the closest thing she has got to a bit of celebrity in recent years was switching on the Christmas lights in the Midlands town of Wednesbury, where her mum was born.

It's an odd state of affairs, not to mention a rather instructive illustration of the random nature of modern celebrity. Certainly, readers with reasonable memories may recall that for a time Connie was going to be the next big thing in Britain too.

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As a gap-toothed six-year-old, she enchanted the public and Simon Cowell throughout the first series of Britain's Got Talent in 2007 with her pitch-perfect rendition of Over The Rainbow.

Heavily tipped to win the competition and the £100,000 prize, she was pipped to second place by mobile phone salesman turned opera singer Paul Potts.

Still, it was assumed that Connie would do just fine. Cowell promised to make her a £1 million-a-year star anyway, with a pledge to sign her to his record label, Syco.

Such was the avalanche of attention that ensued that for the first few weeks after the competition, her parents had to hire a bodyguard to look after her when she went out in public.

"It was crazy," Sharon recalls now. "We had no idea that it would happen. We had people standing outside the house and the phone ringing off the hook."

Just two months later, however, Connie's dreams were shattered when Cowell's music label Sony BMG decided she was too young for a recording career. Her hastily recorded album, Over The Rainbow, seemed destined to languish unreleased until, undeterred, Connie's parents signed her to a new recording label.

Alas, that didn't work out either. Just a few months later, the label's distribution company went into liquidation, and Connie's albums ended up stuck in a warehouse, where they're still languishing to this day. So few copies were sold in Britain that her parents have no idea what the figures are. It seemed Connie's 15 minutes of fame were well and truly up.

But not quite. For overseas it was becoming a different story: remade and distributed by record labels in Asia and the US, Connie's album sold hundreds of thousands of copies (in Taiwan, it outsold Mariah Carey). And from there, things have spiralled in a most peculiar way.

Maybe it's the goofy smile, maybe it's the sweet fringe, but pretty much the moment she steps off her home shores, Connie is now quite the super-star, ferried by limousine from five-star hotel to concert or charity engagement with all the fuss afforded to a Mariah Carey, a Whitney Houston or a Madonna.

For instance, in December, which saw Connie and her mother ensconced in a luxury hotel in Seoul, where Connie opened the G20 summit of world leaders at a special concert, Connie's room was so big it had a swimming pool in it. "Can you imagine?" says her mum.

"We couldn't believe it. Everyone was so nice. After she sang, the South Korean president presented her with a special plaque and thanked her. He said she had a beautiful voice."

In the New Year it was China, where Connie was flown by the leading network television channel to sing as part of the televised Chinese New Year celebrations. About 400 million people watched it, says 41-year-old Sharon.

"It's unbelievable, really. But they go crazy for her all over the Far East; she's a proper celebrity and gets recognised all the time. If she's out in public she gets people rushing up to her saying: I love you Connie.

"Sometimes we have to make a bit of a sharp exit because people want to touch her. It's lovely, really. Whenever we're over there, people tell us they feel like Connie is a bridge between East and West."

The requests for Connie come flooding in from all over the world almost every day and the person dealing with them is not Simon Cowell, Dark Lord of Celebrity, but Sharon. For while there are record labels representing Connie in the Far East, at the moment she has no manager and no official representation in Britain.

This must surely, you think, be enough to pique Cowell's interest once more. The Talbots would like nothing more and even Connie confesses to dreaming that she might hear from him again. "It would be really nice if he gets in touch," she says. "I still like him a lot."

Sharon puts it more firmly. "I think she deserves recognition here [UK]. She's been a fantastic little ambassador for this country and we're terribly proud of her."

Of course, whether her homeland can take her to its heart again remains to be seen. But as is often the case regarding childhood we need to savour the moment, because there's a chance Connie might not always sing.

"It'd be nice to be a singer, but maybe I'd like to be something else," she says. "Something like a doctor."

She may be perhaps a young global superstar on the scene, but Connie Talbot, it seems, has got her little feet planted firmly on the ground.

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