Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Donaghadee’s angelic-voiced Kaylee wows US TV with her version of Hallelujah

By Claire McNeilly

It's every singer's dream to make it big in America - but a talented Co Down schoolgirl has already done just that.

Kaylee Rogers (11) from Donaghadee wowed stateside audiences with her stunning rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah on a primetime TV US talent programme.

The Killard House Year 8 pupil, who is autistic and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), said she loved singing, particularly because it makes her feel "calm" and "confident".

The schoolgirl captured hearts around the world in December 2016 when a video of her singing at her school's Christmas concert went viral.

Her television appearance on NBC's popular Little Big Shots show - which isn't a competition - was a huge hit with the studio and television viewers, while the YouTube clip of her performance with American a cappella group Pentatonix has been seen by millions of people online.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the show aired in the USA on Sunday, Kaylee said it was amazing to have had the opportunity to sing her favourite song on centre stage in Los Angeles.

"It was very exciting performing for an American audience," she said.

"I met so many friends while I was there. I loved it. The people were super sweet. I would love to be a singer when I grow up. Hallelujah is my favourite song so it was really special for me."

Indeed, the only downside for Kaylee (below), who has a younger brother Noah (10) who also has ADHD and autism and attends Longstone Special School in Dundonald, was that she had to part with her dress afterwards. "A costume artist made my dress especially for me for Little Big Shots but they didn't let me keep it," she said.

Kaylee's mother Tracy (47), a carer and full-time mum, said she and husband Neil (58), a Translink employee, were extremely proud of their daughter's success on the show, which celebrates children's talents.

"We know what she has overcome; there were so many struggles and challenges on the way," said Tracy, who flew to America with her daughter last October.

They were accompanied by head of music at Killard Lloyd Skates and his wife Victoria, also a teacher at the school.

Mr Skates played the piano during Kaylee's performance, which was aired on March 25.

"It all came about when CBS producers phoned me about Kaylee, who did a Skype audition and was then asked to appear on the show, which will be screened here in the summer," the proud mum added.

Tracy, who's originally from the US but has lived in Northern Ireland for 16 years, said her mum Mary (72) and stepdad Tom (78) travelled from Florida to Los Angeles to join her in the live audience.

"It was electric when Kaylee sang. She got a standing ovation after her performance with Pentatonix. Everyone was in awe," she added.

"Some of the reporters wanted me to cry for the TV cameras but I couldn't. I didn't shed a tear, because I was so happy. She was fantastic."

Kaylee has been growing in confidence through singing and has been praised by her principal Colin Millar for embodying the ethos of the school, which won the 2018 Families First NI award for Best School for Supported Needs.

Belfast Telegraph

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