Youngster gives it her all in L.A.
Music: Local brings home gold and bronze medals from world championships
Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013 08:18 am
Just three minutes to change costumes between singing performances at a prestigious performing arts competition in California was no big deal for one Okotoks tween.
In fact, she wasn’t even nervous.
Eleven-year-old Zasha Rabie remained calm among the hustle and bustle of singers, dancers, models and actors preparing lines, songs and choreography for the World Championships of Performing Arts, an international talent competition held in Los Angeles last month.
“I never really get nervous singing,” said Rabie, who has performed in dozens of recitals. “I’m pretty familiar with the stage.”
The fact Rabie was performing at what her voice teacher Tracey Fleury calls the Olympics of song and dance didn’t matter.
“For me it was more just experience because I’m only 11 and I don’t need to get a gold,” she said. “I’m not one of those people that are like, ‘I need to win.’”
But win, she did. The Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School student took home a gold for her country song “Every Little Thing” by Carlene Carter and a bronze in contemporary for “I Believe” by Nikki Yanofsky in the 11 and 12-year-old age group.
“I got the bronze one first so it was like, ‘This is awesome, I got bronze out of like 10 people,’” she said. “When I got the gold I was like, ‘Two medals! Ahh!’”
Rabie also sang Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” in the pop category and “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid in the Broadway category.
Fleury asked Rabie was if she would be interested in competing in the World Championships of Performing Arts when she learned Canada’s team captain was in need of a singer to add to her group of eight last winter. When Rabie agreed she had no idea she’d return home with medals.
“We were trying to find something that I could really do more of what I loved to do so when this came along it was like, ‘Yes, I would love to do this,’” she said. “We had no idea what it was going to be like.”
Rabie said the world championships gave her a taste of competing and she’s hungry for more.
“It was definitely a new experience,” she said. “I had never done anything like it before. I saw a lot of other talent and it was really a good experience for me to see what’s out there and if I pursue singing what would be in store.”
Although both her parents work as doctors, Rabie said medicine is not likely her career choice because she feels most at home in front of the eyes of thousands.
“I want to be on the Broadway stage some day,” she said. “I love singing and I really like acting so putting the two together is awesome.”
Rabie’s dream might not be far from reality.
Not only did she have two agents express interest in her talent in Los Angeles — one who wants studio time with her and the other who asked for a demo CD — she was also invited by her summer camp director in Calgary to audition for the role of Jane in Theatre Calgary’s upcoming musical Mary Poppins. Rabie auditioned on July 31 and will learn if she gets the role in a couple of months, said mom Dr. Ana-Maria Oelschig.
Oelschig said she is in full support of her daughter’s dream to sing and act.
“We’ve always believed she should make that decision for herself,” she said.
When Rabie expressed an interest in competing at the World Championships of Performing Arts last winter, Oelschig supported her in that, too.
“This is what she wants to do,” she said. “This was an opportunity to go and see if she is good enough, see how she feels against the other kids.”
Oelschig said her daughter not only committed to the singing lessons to perfect her songs but raised half of the entrance fee through bottle drives.
Six months later, they set off for Los Angeles for the 10-day event, which included singers, dancers, actors and models from 40 countries. The competition started with a 12-hour boot camp with renowned choreographers and vocalists.
In the singing competition, contestants were given one minute to sing their songs and Rabie was well prepared, having perfected her voice with the help of Fleury and the costumes and choreography with the help of her mom.
When it was time for Rabie to perform, Oelschig was the one who was nervous.
“It was scary to hear your kid in an international environment,” she said. “It’s scary because you know if this goes amazingly well this could be your life. Show business doesn’t come without a price.”
Watching her daughter perform wasn’t easy. Oelschig said she could only watch one performance. Her husband and son watched all four.
“My heart was pounding. I was sweating. I was freaking out,” she said. “This is a totally different level for her. This is not just a little girl standing up and singing a Christmas song. This is a kid who is really comfortable in her skin and wants to do this.”
Oelschig said she was confident her daughter was the best singer there, of course there maybe be a little parental bias.
“She has an incredible voice,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s my kid on stage’. There is nothing that is stopping her.”
Fleury, who was unable to attend as she was on holidays at the time, said she is not surprised Rabie returned with two medals.
“The kid has something, she always has,” she said. “She was just born that way. She’s just a natural.”