Music: 8-year-old phenom Connie Talbot captures Utah's attention

Published November 20, 2008 3:09 pm
Runner-up in 'Britain's Got Talent' is most-Googled in Beehive State.
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You might expect "Kurt Bestor," "David Archuleta" and "Jell-O salad" to be the biggest hits of Utah residents' Google searches.

You wouldn't expect "Connie Talbot."

She's the 8-year-old singer who finished second on "Britain's Got Talent" in 2007 and now is cheerfully invading the consciousness of the United States. And it seems her point of entry is Utah, as she's Googled here about as often as funeral potatoes and the Utah Jazz's Carlos Boozer.

"It is a very Christian audience that listens to her," said Peter Kuys, Talbot's U.S. publicist, in an effort to explain her local appeal. "Grandparents buy [her music] for their grandchildren."

If you ask the young singer, she'll tell you she has no idea why she's successful in Utah. Mostly because she simply has no idea where Utah is.

In an interview, Connie sounded like a shy, polite girl, a phone demeanor that belies her strong singing voice. Which, of course, sounds like that of a young lady and is pitch-perfect.

The girl singer enjoyed an Archuleta-esque rise, finishing in second place on the popular British show, the creation of "American Idol" judge and producer Simon Cowell. But the show's winner, Paul Potts, topped the voting charts with an even more populist story. Potts, a likable, self-doubting cell-phone salesman with bad teeth, tugged his audience's heartstrings by singing operatic arias.

Come to think of it, maybe Connie could qualify in the bad teeth category, too, but only because she's of the age when she's still losing baby teeth.

Undeterred by losing the popular vote, Connie signed a record deal, released the gold-selling album "Over the Rainbow" in the United Kingdom and is now in the process of jumping the pond. That's thanks to the release of her album in the U.S. and a guest performance on "Oprah" Nov. 17. Overall, at age 8, she has sold more than 250,000 albums.

"I can't believe I made it so far," said Connie, who said Cowell is "not that nasty in real life. … He was really nice."

Connie began singing when she was only a year old, watching "The Wizard of Oz" with her grandmother "millions of times." She also grew up listening to Whitney Houston, to whom she pays tribute by singing "I Will Always Love You" on her album of standards.

In an interview, Connie's father, Gavin Talbot, admitted he also didn't know where Salt Lake City was, but said his daughter's music seems to sell well in what he termed "family-friendly" and "God-fearing" places. "That's probably why we have lots of people ask me if she's an angel," he said.

According to Barry Burmaster, director of marketing for music and entertainment retailer F.Y.E., Connie's album has enjoyed sales boosts after the young singer's appearances on "Oprah" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." "The Salt Lake City region has shown Connie an enormous amount of support and we are positive this CD will be successful throughout the holiday season," the marketer said.

Despite her singing and TV success, Connie's siblings, Molly and Josh, said their sister doesn't act spoiled, while her father said Connie is "the same as she was before the show."

Only with more teeth.

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