Sometimes, all you can do is listen and watch in awe. That's what happens when 12-year-old Mae Ya Carter-Ryan opens her mouth and the voice of a powerhouse jazz-gospel song emerges. She and 12-year-old cellist Charlie Zandieh are among the kids in cable's "Young Marvels." Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
LOS ANGELES -- Young people, TV keeps telling us, are good
at dancing, cooking or singing pop songs.
Now one show, “Young Marvels,” reminds us that there’s much
Charlie Zandieh, 12, a cellist. “I started
realizing that … my emotions were coming out when I was playing,” he said.
Mae Ya Carter-Ryan, 12, whose little-girl
speaking voice turns into the jazzy sound of a mezzo superstar. “I see myself
being on a big stage, singing in front of millions of people,” she said.
Or the others. Among boys, there’s an opera singer,
11; a blind pianist, 13; and two dancers, ballet, 14, and ballroom, 8. Among
girls, there’s a dancer, 13, and there’s Mabou Loiseau; at 8, she plays the
piano, plays the flute and sings in eight languages.
For some, this is logical. Charlie’s parents and two
brothers are all musical. “I think my dad actually chose the cello for me,” he
said. It was a good choice; this year, he won a Juilliard School competition.
And for others, this is a huge detour in a family with
little music background. Mae Ya was 7 when she asked for singing lessons,
recalled her mother Ina:
“I said, ‘Sure, I’ll give you voice lessons.’ And I had no
intention of giving her voice lessons. She was already taking piano lessons,
and I just brushed it off ….
“One Saturday morning, a year later, I heard her singing
upstairs. And she was singing her heart out. And my mouth dropped open and I
said, ‘Oh my God, she can actually sing!’”
Even Mae Ya was surprised. “Everybody would say, ‘Oh, you’re
awesome; you’re great,’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you.’ And then my
mom started to tape and I heard me and I’m like, ‘Wow!’”
Others were wowed,
too. With most of the arts programs now eliminated from Chicago’s schools, her
mother says she’s often racing to private lessons. “I am a single parent, so it
is sometimes extremely difficult. A lot of sleep is lost, running to work,
running home from work to take her.”
Kathy Zandieh also knows the drill, taking Charlie to his lessons
at Juilliard. They live in Long Island, where school music programs thrive and
seem to boost other skills.
“It has helped math, science,” she said. “All three of the
kids are phenomenal students …. I think it would be a sin, almost. To take
music away or the arts away from school.”
It happens, often. And despite it all, young marvels keep
“Young Marvels,” 10 p.m. ET Wednesdays, Ovation
(via cable or satellite)
12-part series; the second part airs July 23