By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Friday, June 24, 2016
The first notable Atlantan this season on “America’s Got Talent’ didn’t show up until episode four earlier this week. She was fortunately impressive enough to get four yesses from the judges.
Jayna Brown, all of 14, crooned the classic “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” and received plaudits from the crowd and the judges. Mel B:“What a voice!” Heidi Klum: “You are fearless, you are fabulous!” Howie Mandel: “There’s so much poise, so much beyond your years!” Simon Cowell: “I didn’t like that…I loved it.”
She could very well be around awhile.
Her ties to Atlanta are not that deep. She only lived here about 18 months in Conyers when she was 12 and 13 and was home schooled, spending spare time with the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta. (Much of her father’s side of the family resides here.) She is now on the road, without a technical home, staying with family and splitting time between Virginia and Maryland. Her mom has been booking her in festivals and other gigs for several years since she became a YouTube sensation six or seven years ago.
In an interview, Brown said “America’s Got Talent” has called her regularly since she gained a following on YouTube. When she was 11, her “Take Me To The King” garnered millions of views.
Jayna said her schedule this year finally enabled her to try out. And so far, it’s been a boon for her.
“It’s definitely a big stage,” she said. “The more people see me, the more they’ll want to look me up. A lot of people have complimented me on Instagram and Twitter. I’ve gotten a ton of new followers. It’s been a cool experience.”
She chose “Summertime” because it showcases her voice and was one of the first songs she tried out on YouTube years ago. “It’s been a song I’ve sung throughout my entire career,” she said.
Jayna said she was super nervous before going on stage but was fine once she was in front of the judges and audience. “I transform myself into this confident alter ego,” she said. Her alter ego’s name? Miss J. She felt most connected with judge Mel B, also a singer. Cowell intimidated her but his kind words soothed her.
Her style is what she calls jazz-pop. When I suggested Norah Jones, she didn’t say no.
Even if she wins, she said she’d like to stay independent and not attach herself to a big record label. (It seems in this day and age, signing with a major label isn’t as big a deal as it used to be.)