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Leilani Clarke

Author John Cech
Air Date 9/20/2000

Leilani Clarke Transcript

Earlier this year, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio program held a national contest for Talent from Towns Under Two Thousand. The winner of the competition was 12-year old Leilani Clarke from Welbourne, Florida, an easy morning’s drive through the rolling hills of the countryside north of our station in Gainesville. Along with a cash award, she also won the water-tower trophy and a spectacular national launching of her career as a singer.

Leilani has one of those clear, pure voices that makes you stop and listen – you can’t believe that it belongs to someone who is not even a teenager yet. Evidently, as she said in an interview in our studios, her gift was there from the beginning, while her family was still living in Miami, before they moved to Welbourne:

Leilani: “When I first started singing, my dad told me I never went through a baby talk stage. And ever since I learned to speak, I was singing nursery rhymes on pitch and I just sang them around the house in Miami and he said it was like, “wow.” And I mostly inherited it from my dad’s side because he used to sing a lot with his friends from school and he said he used to play the piano when I was in my mom’s stomach and he would, you know, play the scales and notes and everything. So it was, you know, pretty cool.”

She likes to sing both sacred and secular music, she told us, and is particularly fond of golden oldies and songs from the thirties and forties. She’s an “A” student who doesn’t like math (though she gets “A’s” in it), and loves to read, especially humorous stories like Bill Myers’ series, The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle, with installments like My Life as a Bigfoot Breath Mint.

She’s a typical good kid. What’s truly amazing, of course, is what happens when she turns to music. Talent, someone once said, will always declare itself. And here it is, in abundance – Leilani Clarke, with her father, Dan, on the keyboards, and a little bit from the classic “When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver.” You can hear why we’re all so proud around here.

Brief sound clip 

Posted in Interviews, Music