Mountain Pointe Principal Bruce Kipper called Kiana Brown up to the stage in front of the entire school on Friday. She didn't know she was about to get the biggest news of her life.
That was until "American Idol" winner Kris Allen joined her on stage minutes later.
Brown was a top-four finalist in the KIDZ Star USA Talent Search, and she was under the impression the winner wasn't going to be announced until next week. But when the 26-year-old Allen jumped up next to her and gave her a hug, the cat was out of the bag.
The packed gymnasium erupted into cheers and applause, with her parents watching from the floor, as Allen told her that she was the last performer standing in the nationwide talent competition. Out of the close to 50,000 that applied, Brown was voted in as the winner.
"It was a crazy moment and I can't really get my mind to process what has happened," she said.
If the pandemonium she experienced at the assembly was a sign of things to come, the next few weeks are going to be a blur. As winner of the competition, Brown will receive a record contract with RCA Records, appear in a music video, a commercial and contribute to the "KIDZ BOP 21" CD. If people in the music industry haven't heard her name yet, they will after the CD is released. "KIDZ BOP 20" held a top-10 spot in the Billboard 200 for five weeks.
Allen, who is no stranger to the music industry, said he noticed her talent while watching her sing to a crowd in New York City as part of the competition and the way she composed herself in front of the mass of people afterwards.
"When I watched her video (online) I wasn't sure, but after I saw her perform in New York, I knew right then she was going to win," Allen said. "She has got so much potential. She is so young and the music industry is crazy, in a good way, and if she keeps her family around her and works hard, there is no doubt she is going to make it in this industry."
For her mother, it was when Brown was only 16 months old that she realized her daughter might have a talent for singing.
"We were in the middle of a store and all of a sudden Kiana started not just signing, but belting out her ABCs," Shakira Matherly said. "I didn't know it was unusual for a child to do that but people kept stopping and saying, ‘How is your child doing this?'"
Brown started taking signing lessons and her desire to continue to improve became apparent to her family.
"She is one of those people that no one is going to tell her ‘no,'" her father Michael Brown said. "Some younger kids can find singing lessons boring, but Kiana was different. She loved it."
Added Matherly, "she will sing. She will be involved with music for the rest of her life. Her backup goal is to become a therapist and if she does that it will involve music in some regard."
Immediately after Allen broke the news to her on Friday, he put her on the spot and told her it was time to sing for the school. To her fans, who ultimately helped win her the competition by voting online, Brown sang Liona Lewis' "Bleeding Love."
"I'm still so surprised," she said. "But when I was (on stage) in front of everyone, I focused on the moment. I started to sing, and when that happens I just let everything else go."
As Allen put it, the music industry can be a difficult place to crack into, but, for Brown, winning a competition against almost 50,000 other people is certainly a good start.
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