Voice teacher Janet Haigh said she had never taken a student as young as Ellie King before.
“Second grade. I don’t go that young with my students. She’s amazing. She could grasp the concepts, and her voice was so incredibly talented,” Haigh said. “She’s been an exceptional singer since she was young.”
Twelve-year-old Ellie King, a rising seventh-grader at Conway Christian School, recently won the Piccolo Spoleto Rising Star contest, where she performed in front of other artistically-talented students from across the state in Charleston this past Monday.
Haigh said she thought King was likely the first from the area selected to perform there.
According to their website, the Rising Stars Piccolo Spoleto Series is in its 13th year, and celebrates young actors, dancers, musicians, writers, and visual arts.
The Spoleto Festival USA is a high-profile arts event that takes place every spring in downtown Charleston.
Haigh said that with all of the COVID-19 cancellations over the past year, when she heard of the chance to enter this competition, she jumped at the chance to enter King for it.
“So few competitions were open to her, they had cancelled school competitions, etc. When I heard they were opening up [the Rising Star], I said ‘Well, we have to send in her audition,’” Haigh said. “She was hanging on to voice lessons, since it was one of her few opportunities to sing … she’d had some distanced recitals.”
King is the daughter of Chris and Valerie King, and Lindsay and Stephen Tompkins.
Her mom, Lindsay Tompkins, said Ellie is a straight-A student and enjoys writing music, singing, painting, and playing with her baby sister. She has been singing since a very early age.
King says she wants to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and as of right now, said she likes to perform all kinds of music.
“I can’t pick a favorite,” she said.
Tompkins said King’s performance at Monday’s show went very well, despite King being very nervous.
“I was super proud of her – she’s a very special young lady and I’m so glad others have recognized that,” Tompkins said.
King said she sang a “mash-up” of songs called “Angels Through the Night” by Phillip Kern last Monday, in Charleston’s St. Matthew’s Parish Hall.
“I do it for the God who created me. That’s the best part for me,” King said.
She said that if people say something bad about her, she might get upset, but not when she’s singing for God.
“I’m singing for Him. No matter if I mess up or not, he will always be proud of me,” King said.
For more about the Piccolo Spoleto Rising Stars event, visit www.palmettoartsed.org