To date, Holly Stell has performed for the President of the United States, been a soloist at the prestigious "A Night of Opera", and performed a duet with the distinguished Andrea Bocelli. All of this and she isn't even old enough to acquire a driver's license.
Holly Stell is a 13 year-old Northern California opera singing sensation that has captivated audiences of all ages with her velvety smooth yet potent voice. Since the release of her self titled debut album in December 2005, the young diva has been in demand, appearing on Entertainment Tonight Canada, CTV National News, eTalk Daily, Star TV and City TV.
Holly's interest in opera began as a toddler, a moment she remembers clearly; "When I was two years old, I was fascinated with Pavarotti. My mom was turning the channels of the TV looking for something for me to watch while she cleaned the house and he (Pavarotti) came on and I wouldn't let her change the channel. I don't know if it was the emotion he put into the song or just the way he looked when he was singing opera but I just always had a fascination with it. It's just beautiful music and that I think contributes to my fascination with opera."
At the tender age of four, Holly's parents decided to let her join the junior choir at church so she could do what she loved to do, sing. At nine years old, the aspiring soloist signed herself up to sing the solo "O Holy Night". Was she nervous at all? "I think at that age I just really wanted to do it. It wasn't a big deal to me. I just signed myself up to sing it. It was, I don't know, it just came naturally to me."
After joining the VOENA Children's Choir, Holly would perform as a soloist once again but on a somewhat larger platform; for the President of the United States during A&E's "Holidays at the White House". "That I think was a little later in my career from when I was nine. So, I think I was pretty nervous for it. And plus, it's the President so it was a little overwhelming just being in his presence."
Someone that Holly is pleased to have in her presence is Canadian composer/producer, Jack Lenz, who discovered her pure voice while she was in Toronto. "I was singing at Hilary Duff's 16th (High Tea) Birthday Benefit and Jack happened to accompany me on the piano. He was working on a feature film (The Lazarus Child) and he wanted to submit me to do the end track song (Go Where Love Goes) and it worked out. So he wanted to produce an album." As Holly and Jack worked together on her album, her respect and admiration of him grew. "It's been an amazing experience. He's probably one of the nicest people I know and he's very compassionate towards people. He never has a temper. He's an amazing composer. So far it's been wonderful."
Another amazing experience for Holly was recording a duet with one of her idols, Andrea Bocelli; "That was another really great experience. Just being in his presence was amazing as it was with the President. Doing a duet with him (Bocelli) was hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience. He is amazing and a very gifted artist." Holly's duet with Bocelli, "Go Where Love Goes", is featured on his opera album as well as her debut CD. Be careful how you describe her album though, it's not just another opera compilation. "There are two opera songs on the album but I think it kind-of has a pop classical feel. I like to use the term 'popssical" because it has a pop and classical mix, if you get that. It's cool music. It's not quite pop but it's quite classical so it's kind-of like a little mix of both."
The album also features the song "Annabelle Lee" a track that Stell penned herself. "I wrote 'Annabelle Lee' in 2004, for a school report that I was doing. It was adapted from Edgar Alan Poe's poem 'Annabelle Lee'." Holly's debut CD was officially released in the US on January 31, 2006. It is available at over 400 Barnes and Noble bookstores, which Holly has been busy touring. "I'm touring Barnes and Noble stores for now but hopefully I'll be doing more venues soon. It's been going really well. The people at the stores are really nice and I get to have free Starbucks. It's pretty awesome."
So what's next for this "Petite Pavarotti" (as she was dubbed on Entertainment Tonight)? "I'd like to have a couple of albums out. I've always thought that doing a duet with Paul McCartney would be really cool. Just because I've always idolized him as an amazing artist and he's just so good at what he does. He's a musical genius to me. I'd also like to play Christine in 'Phantom of the Opera'."
But Holly's goals aren't all about her. "I've always been taught to give back," which she does through supporting Kids with a Cause, a charity that Holly is passionate about. "We actually have the opportunity to help kids all around the world not only in the United States, which is something that makes me feel so much better about myself." Holly Stell should feel extremely good about herself. Barely being a teenager, she's got more on her resume than the majority of us. Bravo Holly, bravo!
For more information visit www.hollystell.com.
Writer: Lisa Kerr