CARLSBAD — While some people may spend decades figuring out what career they want to pursue, 8-year-old Sadie Duca already knows she wants to be a professional singer. In fact, her voice netted the attention of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” this past season.Although Sadie didn’t make it through the final stages of the popular reality show, the experience gave her the opportunity to sing in front of a live audience and a boost of self-confidence to go with it.
At first, the young Carlsbad resident’s nerves were on overdrive as she waited her turn backstage in Seattle, Wash., to sing in front of the celebrity judges, a sea of fans, and millions of television viewers.
“I felt like I could cry,” Sadie said. “But then my father said, ‘There’s nothing to be afraid about because they’re just normal people like me.’”
Those words calmed Sadie and her performance pushed her to the Las Vegas round. But her “America’s Got Talent” journey ended there.
When Sadie got voted off, her father wiped away her tears backstage and gave her a pep talk. “It took me … maybe an hour to get over it,” she said, adding that Piers Morgan was her favorite judge.
Her father, Anthony Duca, 41, told Sadie what she needed to hear. “I let her know that the great thing was that she was only 8 years old and she already figured out what she wanted to do for the rest of her life; this was just the beginning of her journey,” Duca said.
The decision to make the February tryout trip to Seattle was a spur of the moment one. On a whim, Duca logged onto the show’s website and saw there was one audition slot left on the schedule.
“We didn’t have any expectations, and for Sadie, it was invaluable,” he said.
Sadie has had a vocal coach for just one year. Her decision to pursue singing was jumpstarted when she listened to a 16-year-old performing on television. Duca recorded the girl singing the famous Gershwin jazz tune, “I’ve Got Rhythm,” played it back for his daughter a few times, and asked her to give it a shot.
Duca couldn’t believe his ears.
“Sadie sang it and it was like she had sung the song a hundred times before — it was amazing,” Duca said. “At that moment, we knew there was something special here.”
Duca said they got Sadie weekly vocal lessons at California Music Studios headquartered in Encinitas. Initially, they met with Jennifer Paterson, president of the company.
Paterson, a teacher for 42 years, said what immediately struck her was how smart Sadie was.
“Sadie sings with a huge, natural feeling for music,” Paterson said. “I rarely see prodigy singers, but she might be one — she’s quite exceptional.”
For example, if Sadie hears a classic Ella Fitzgerald song she connects with the jazz and scat style.
And when it comes to her student’s progress, Paterson said, the young girl went from being a child who thought she wanted to sing, to being an “America’s Got Talent” contestant, and now performs regularly at Crush Italian Cuisine and Lounge in Solana Beach.
“Sadie has a following and I think she has a huge future in music,” Paterson said.
Sadie’s favorite musical artist is Celine Dion. And one day, she said, she wants to be famous like the iconic singer.
Having been through the reality show trenches, Sadie does have her own words of wisdom for kids who may want to give it a try: “I would say just go for your dreams and be prepared.”
For more information on Sadie Duca, visit sadiebd.com.