Interview: Angelica Hale and her dad discuss her amazing 'America's Got Talent' audition and inspiring others with her gift
America's Got Talent YouTube

Pint-sized vocal powerhouse Angelica Hale has a voice that defies reason. The nine-year-old Georgia native songstress has been melting hearts across the country ever since her mind-blowing, inspirational “Rise Up” audition on “America’s Got Talent.” The entire audience and all four judges jumped to their feet in wild, unanimous applause when she was done.

Simon Cowell probably summed up the collective air of joyous astonishment best when he said, “Well this shouldn’t actually happen. You’re tiny. Your voice is huge.” And, he echoed our thoughts perfectly when he said, “I have a feeling we may be looking at a star in the future.”

How could anyone disagree?

Angelica walked confidently to center stage, waved her bubbly hello, and proudly proclaimed she wanted to be “the next Whitney Houston.” Then she sang Andra Day’s Grammy-nominated anthem with the grace and poise of someone three-times her age, and the heart and passion of a champion. She showcased the jaw-dropping power of her voice and delicate nuances of the song’s sonic range with utter perfection.

The petite, beaming girl couldn’t have picked a more fitting song, having endured life-threatening complications from double-pneumonia five years prior, which spiraled into going septic, multiple organ failure, and eventually resulted in her mother, Eva, donating a kidney to help save her life.

For Eva and her husband James, Angelica’s presence on the AGT stage was truly miraculous. They nearly lost their daughter and to witness her stunning performance was beyond what they could have ever imagined in the bleak, terrifying days at the hospital back then.

There is no finer example of someone rising and moving a mountain than this charismatic little girl, who overcame such adversity, standing center stage and throwing down her gauntlet to fiercely fight for her dreams by singing such a victorious song. When tears of joy sprang from Angelica’s eyes at the end of her audition, it was impossible not to wipe away tears of our own.

Angelica’s huge heart is even more precious than her sweet smile and spectacular voice. Over the past year, she’s used her gift to inspire others by performing and sharing her incredible story at several Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital events around the country.  

Lots of those performances appear on her YouTube channel, along with some fantastic, sparkling covers like Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Singing is undoubtedly Angelica’s passion and her deep well of inner joy bubbles over into infectious radiance. Angelica and her dad, James Hale, recently took time to speak with AXS via phone about singing, her fabulous AGT audition and impacting others with her gift.

AXS: You’ve been singing since you were two, correct? Do you take singing lessons?

Angelica Hale: Yes. I started taking singing lessons when I was 5 years old.

AXS: And you play piano on some of your YouTube performances. When did you start playing and do you play any other instruments?

AH: I started taking piano lessons around the time I started taking voice lessons, and no, I don’t.

AXS: Dad, when did you and your wife realize Angelica has a special gift with her voice?

James Hale: I would say we first started noticing how musical Angelica was when she was two-years-old. She would try to sing along to songs she would hear on the radio when she was sitting in the car seat of the car. She was really tiny. But, she really enjoyed music and we could tell that. She started learning her first songs when she was three-years-old. She started singing “Amazing Grace” and a few other songs, like the National Anthem, maybe even “God Bless America.”

AXS: Do you and your wife sing? Or anyone in the family?

JH: Absolutely not. We don’t sing. But, it was really cool to see Angelica get into it. It’s allowed us to appreciate it from a different perspective, because we don’t actually do it ourselves.

AXS: Angelica, you did such a beautiful job on your AGT audition! What made you decide to go on “America’s Got Talent?”

AH: Well, I absolutely love singing and it’s my passion. I just thought “America’s Got Talent was a fantastic place to start.

AXS: When you went out there, you didn’t look nervous at all. Did you feel nervous?

AH: Absolutely! I was trying to buckle it in. I was super nervous in the beginning. I was taking deep breaths and when I got out there, I know I didn’t look nervous but I was bursting with nerves.

AXS: How about you, Dad? Were you nervous watching? How would you describe how you felt watching her?

JH: It’s something that you prepare so much and you put so much into it and now it’s the moment. Of course, we were nerve-wracked, just seeing her go out there. We were very nervous for her. We couldn’t believe, in our opinion, how amazing, and just professional and put together she was. I applaud her. We were very impressed. She was amazing!

AXS: Angelica, what did it feel like to hear the audience clap and scream the way they did when you were done?

AH: I felt so happy and awestruck. Feeling the energy from the crowd made me feel a bit more confident, you know? I felt more comfortable out there. I was just so happy I cried, literally. 

AXS: You told Mel B she was your favorite judge. What do you like about Mel B?

AH: She is the only singer of all the judges and she’s part of the Spice Girls, and I absolutely love the Spice Girls. But, I love all the judges. I think Mel B is absolutely awesome. But, I love all the judges.

AXS: What about your friends at home? What did everybody say about you being on TV? Have you had a lot of excitement from your friends and family?

AH: I’ve gotten calls and texts and they said, “Angelica, I saw you on TV!” And I said, “Really?” And they said, “You did great!” And I said, “Thank you so much!” And I’m like, “Wow!”

AXS: How about you, Dad? Have you gotten a lot of calls and encouragement yourself?

JH: Everyone’s just been lighting us up and it’s been great. I feel bad because you get so many calls and messages at once and it’s so hard to respond to everybody timely. Everyone’s been very supportive and it’s just been really cool to see that.

AXS: On YouTube Angelica is singing Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Was she singing it for the Children’s Miracle Network?

JH: That was the first performance she had with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, if that’s the one from Orlando. She sang it at their annual conference, which is called Momentum, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. That’s been her mission the past year. She’s done many, many performances with them the past year all over the country.

It’s been good, because she’s been able to share her story at these events and help raise awareness for CMN, which leads to more donations and more money for all the Miracle Hospitals that they help support. So, it’s been really cool for her to have an impact nationwide and even at hospitals in Canada. She’s got a very impactful story and she’s got an incredible talent. It’s awesome the two could be merged together to make a huge impact and help a lot of kids. It’s just been great.

AXS: Angelica, how does it feel to you when people call you an inspiration?

AH: I feel radiant. I feel awesome when they call me inspirational, because I know I’ve made an impact on them. I know I’ve made an impact and that’s what I’m all about. I want to make an impact on people and I want to inspire them. So that’s just amazing, really.

AXS: Is there a song that really inspires you?

AH: I really love the song I sang on AGT and I really love the Whitney Houston song, “The Greatest Love of All,” which is a very inspirational song. Those two are just amazing, really. They’re very inspirational and I just love singing them.

AXS: We know you want to be the next Whitney Houston – you’re well on your way! Who are some of your other favorite singers?

AH: There are two. Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande. I just love their voices and their songs are awesome. I love Mariah Carey’s music. It’s so inspirational too.

AXS: Who would be your dream duet partner, if you could sing with anybody?

AH: Mariah!

AXS: That would be amazing! You’ve got a lot of people around the country that are really pulling for you and are really excited right now. Is there a message you want to send to all your fans and all the people that are out there supporting you?

AH: I just want to say thank you so much for supporting me. This has been an amazing journey, really and I just absolutely love you all and thank you guys for supporting me. Thank you so much!

You can watch Angelica Hale’s moving “America’s Got Talent” audition in the attached video above. You can watch her “Girl on Fire” cover and her “Greatest Love of All” CMN performance in the videos below. Follow @angelicahale on Twitter. “America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on NBC.