Pint-sized local singer takes home national prize
by Staff Writer
She was one of the shortest competitors to take part in Sing! last fall, but the voice of 11-year-old Brandi Alden dwarfed the competition.
Chosen among dozens of finalists after hundreds of thousands of online votes poured in, J.V. Washam Elementary School fourth-grader Brandi Alden took home the coveted top prize after winning the national vote.
“I was very surprised and happy when the Sing! sponsors called me on the phone to let me know that I won,” Brandi said. “My big sister is in Sweden, but she was very excited when I told her that I won on Skype. My parents were very happy for me and my brothers were too.”
With the excitement of winning Sing! notwithstanding, at just 11 years old, Alden is no stranger to the stage or competitions. And she’s become accustomed to winning.
In 2011, she won both the North Carolina Triad Idol competition and Child Model Magazine’s Entertainer of the Year Award.
She has competed in pageants for many years and is currently the reigning International Junior Miss North Carolina Pre-Teen. She’ll be competing for that national title in July.
“I also dance and have been to dance competitions,” she said. “But singing is my favorite.”
Singing seems to be so much her favorite that she hopes to one day make a career out of it.
“I would love to perform on Broadway or for Disney,” she said. “If I don’t sing, I would like to be a chef at Disney World, or maybe even a singing chef.”
Aside from the opportunity to work and record a song with Emmy-award winning singer/songwriter Kevin Briody, the Sing! competition gave Alden $2,500 in MasterCard gift cards to take home for herself. An additional $5,000 donation was made to Levine Children’s Hospital, the charity of her choice.
Brandi’s mother, Linda Alden, noticed her ability early on and took measures to help her daughter hone her craft.
“Brandi was in a pageant when she was 5 years old that had a talent competition,” Linda Alden said. “We decided to let her sing and were surprised at the reaction of the crowd and comments that several people made to us regarding her ability to sing at such a young age.”
By age 6, Brandi was taking voice lessons. Her current vocal coach, Katie-Britt Greenway, is the 2008 Beauties of America’s 20s National Queen and the 2011 Miss South Miami USA. Greenway has been singing since she was 6 years old as well.
“Brandi came to me a year-and-a-half ago for vocal lessons,” Greenway said. “She was tiny, blonde and elfin-like, but I would learn before the lesson was over, that both her will and her voice were very large. She blew me away when she started to sing, and she still does.”
Now, every week for up to an hour-and-a-half, Greenway coaches Brandi at her Huntersville studio.
“She has quite a repertoire,” Greenway said. “So we pull the proper music for whatever event she plans to attend.”
Greenway helped Alden choose the songs that won her the competition, including “Here in My Heart”, a Kevin Briody original, and the Barbra Streisand number, “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
“Brandi holds my heart in her hand when she is performing,” Greenway said. “There are no words to describe how proud I am of her accomplishments. Nothing she has achieved or will achieve surprises me. She is one of a kind.”