In 2017, nine-year-old Hong Kong national Celine Tam walked onto the set of “America’s Got Talent” to audition for the competition’s 12th season. Celine had one mission; to walk away with the grand prize of $1 million, a headlining residency in Las Vegas, and possibly, a record deal. During her conversation with former Spice Girl Mel B, Celine shared her love for music and adoration for Celine Dion. The revelation started a friendly banter between Celine, Mel, and Simon Cowell, bringing out the fact that Celine discovered her talent and love for music by singing along to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” her favorite music is Celine Dion’s music, and her dream is to become the next Celine Dion.
Naturally, when Simon asked whose song she would perform for her audition, Celine cracked up the judges and audience with her exasperated response “Celine Dion” before launching into a powerful and emotively haunting rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.” She managed to remain audible above the constant cheers from the crowd. Her performance earned her a standing ovation, four “yeses,” and the opportunity to square it out with other contestants at the judges’ cuts. The show gave Celine the same leg up it has given musical prodigies who have gone on to have successful music careers. Fans of the now-teenage musical prodigy often wonder how Celine Tam is doing now. Here is everything that has happened in Celine’s life since her life-changing stint on “AGT.”
Celine traces her love for music to her formative years. Born on 22 November 2007, Celine started singing at the age of three. It helped that her parents loved music – her father is a professor of music and a founder of several music academies in China, while her mother loved music, particularly by the legendary songwriter and vocalist Celine Dion. In fact, Celine and her younger sister, Dion, are named after the Canadian musical powerhouse. One day, when Celine was in their family vehicle with her father, “My Heart Will Go On” started playing on the radio. Three-year-old Celine joined in and started singing along, and her father commented that she had a great voice. At that moment, Celine’s dream of pursuing music professionally, winning local and global singing and talent competitions, and singing on some of the biggest stages across the world was born.
Celine was five when she participated in her first singing competition. She got her first taste of victory when she was declared the champion of the English Schools Foundation singing contest. In the same year, she auditioned for and was declared champion at the Hong Kong Metro Broadcast Kids Open Singing Contest. She went back the following year and emerged a champion in both the Kids Open Singing Contest and the Broadcast Singing Contest. Besides the two competitions, Celine participated in four other talent competitions in 2013, including the Eugene Baby Magazine Singing Competition and Hong Kong Brands & Products Expo Arena Singing Competition, in which she was declared a champion, and the China Television S5 “Let the Dream Flies” competition, where she won Gold.
Emboldened by her success in local talent contests, Celine set her sights on a national competition. In 2014, she saw her chance and took it when she auditioned for “China’s Got Talent.” She was one of the contestants selected to represent Hong Kong but was eliminated in the final round, never making it to the show, but the then seven-year-old didn’t give up, and the following year, she set her sights beyond China, and auditioned for “Britain’s Got Talent.” She made it to the auditions for the show’s tenth season, but did not receive enough votes from the judges to make it to the live shows, so her appearance wasn’t televised.
Celine did not enter any talent competitions for two years after her failed debut on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Instead, she spent her time preparing for the ultimate talent competition., In 2017, she finally felt ready to go for her ultimate dream, and in May, she and her family traveled to the United States to audition for the twelfth season of “AGT.” At the auditions, she wowed the live audience with a rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” earning a standing ovation even before finishing her set. In the six years since the audition, the video has gained over 38 million views and thousands of comments marveling at Celine’s vocals, and admitting that Celine stole hearts and gained instant fans through her performance. Naturally, she proceeded to the second stage of the competition.
At 9 years old, Celine Tam 譚芷昀 gave a performance that would make Céline Dion VERY proud! #AGT 🤩
Posted by America’s Got Talent Presents Superstars Live on Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Celine proceeded to the judge cuts ready to battle fellow contestants for a spot on the show, and this time chose Michael Bolton’s “How am I Supposed to Live Without You” to showcase her vocal abilities. Her choice was validated when guest judge, actress and LGBTQ rights activist Laverne Cox, honored Celine with her one chance to press the Golden Buzzer, sending the young musical prodigy straight to the live shows.
Celine came back to the quarter-finals with an homage to some of the only women in history whose names are mentioned in the same breath as Celine Dion – she chose Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe.” The scenographers put Celine on a mystical stage on a raised rock platform below a wide staircase surrounded by roses to match the floral patterns on her dress. From the stage, she awed the crowd with her vocal control and range, as she alternated between Whitney’s classic long notes and Mariah’s nearly impossible whistle notes. By the time she sang and held the final note in the beloved duet, one thing was certain; the live and TV audiences would be seeing Celine Tam at the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Celine chose a song that represented the fighting spirit which had led her to the stage, after failing to make it to the judge cuts or live shows in her previous competition in Europe. The crew in charge of the stage helped Celine shine once more, by creating an illusion of a raging sea behind her as she sang the “Moana” theme song “How Far I’ll Go”, alternating between high and low notes, holding each long enough to have the crowd cheer. This time, she added some stage presence to her performance by pulling out the mic from its harness mid-performance, and walking around the stage while singing, before bowing to the crowd and thanking the audience at the end of her performance. Her voice, stage presence, and blatant passion for her craft earned her some votes, but unfortunately not enough for her to proceed to the second-last stage of the competition to battle it out with nine other contestants for a spot in the finals. She bowed out of the competition, but with new fans from all over the United States, and positive feedback from all four judges.
“World’s Got Talent”
After a successful yet anticlimactic stint at “AGT,” Celine set her sights on the global stage. In 2019, she auditioned for and earned a spot as one of the contestants on “World’s Got Talent.” The competition was held in China, giving Celine the advantage of competing on her home turf. For her audition, she made the bold decision to perform an original song entitled “Who I Am,” and once she started her performance, it became evident that her vocals had developed significantly since her time on “AGT” two years prior.
Her voice was stronger and more commanding yet inviting at the same time, that she had every person in the arena, including her fellow contestants and competitors, swaying to the song and attempting to sing along, despite not knowing the lyrics. One of the judges compared Celine to a young Celine Dion, while his colleague had the crowd on its feet when she bestowed upon Celine the honor of the Golden Buzzer. Celine made the judges, audience, and family proud when she rose all the way to the finals. With several wins, a few losses, and one close call under her belt, Celine set out to conquer the global music industry. and serenade her fans from all over the world with her original song, and covers of universal classics.
Celine’s talent has taken her to events and stages across the globe. She’s performed at the Miss World Beauty Pageant and the Miss Hong Kong Finals, and has amassed a large following of 1.12 million subscribers on YouTube. Celine is now a teenager, turning 16 in November 2023, having already participated in more than 10 local and global talent competitions, performed at international events, and released two singles – “Who I Am” and “I Choose.” We can hardly wait to see what Celine Tam does next.