In my search for some of the best talent in the world my search has carried me to Asia. I was especially delighted to find fifteen year old Yatharth Ratnum, who was born in Varanasi, India, and has been singing since the young age of five, where he appeared in his first singing competition.
Yatharth attended the Sunbeam Bhagwanpur School, which is a school that teaches both in English and Hindi, and specializes in Science, Math and English studies. With approximately 4,000 students, Sunbeam vigorously supports theater arts and music and was responsible for Yatharth’s early nurturing in music. A favorite teacher at the school was his English teacher, Moushmi Dhar. An avid learner, Yatharth speaks not only English, but five Hindi dialects.
As a very young child, Yatharth always loved to sing, make Karaoke music tracks, and surf the internet. At that time he was an avid fan of the Bee Gees and can still recite all the lyrics to most of the Bee Gee’s biggest hits. Because of this interest in music his parents sent Yatharth to be professionally trained in Indian Classical Music. His favorite singers are Shafqat Amanat, Ali Khan, Shreya Ghoshal, and Ms. Lata Mangeshkar. His biggest personal influence is Michael Jackson and he currently listens to Bruno Mars and is a fan of American Classic Rock like Santana.
“I just want to make albums that make people happy.”
Last summer I visited Jacksonville Florida on my way back from Orlando. What I did not know is that a few miles away, Jacksonville Beach was going to host a new video by another very talented young artist that is fast becoming a singing sensation in that part of Florida! Sometime after returning home, I was browsing YouTube and came across a young man who not only captured my attention with his vocal skill, but exhibited personality and charisma in his videos that demonstrated true performing talent.
This young man is Eleven Year Old Dalton Cyr.
His Dad told me that Dalton has always loved music. At just three years of age he was already singing along to pop artists on the radio and frequently wanted to dance with his stepmother, Cindy.
He would learn all the songs for his school performances and then sing them over and over again at home. However, Dalton had terrible stage fright and would not sing when it came time for performances. In second grade he was chosen for the role of “Johnny” in a school play. Most of the play involved singing with his classmates as a group as well as the key role of Johnny which he powerfully conveyed entirely through non-verbal communication. Watching him sing and act it was evident, he loved singing and it seemed he had moved past his stage fright. The music and acting bug had bitten Dalton.
The same year, when Dalton was seven, he received his first guitar for Christmas. Dalton’s Dad, Frank, noticed Dalton’s great ear when Dalton became frustrated the very first day playing his new miniature Stratocaster guitar because miniatures aren’t tuned the same as a regular guitar. After exchanging the guitar for a ¾ electric guitar that was too big for him, but tuned correctly, Dalton began his musical journey taking guitar lessons. He performed a few times with his guitar and in 2008, when he was 8 he also joined a local community children’s choir.
In 2009, just a few months before his 9th birthday, he saw a friend play the lead role in a local musical production of Beauty and the Beast. Inspired, he decided at that moment he wanted to audition for the following year’s production.
For an entire year he talked about how he wanted to audition and wrote it down as one of his goals for 2010. However, when the auditions came around in early February of 2010, Dalton was extremely nervous about having to sing in front of people during an audition. He came home and told his parents that he was just going to try out for a speaking part. Then the following day, he came home and told his parents he was just going to be a stagehand. Suspicious, his parents inquired why he would change his mind when he had been talking about being in the musical all year. As it turned out, the only way to be in the musical even as a stagehand, required you to sing as part of your audition.
Wanting to help Dalton fulfill his dream of being in the musical, Dalton’s dad spoke to the musical director and asked for tips. One tip was to sing wearing headphones so Dalton could hear himself. So Dalton’s dad set up a place for Dalton to sing with a microphone and headphones. Each night Dalton would practice for an hour or more. The day of tryouts, he was so nervous he made himself sick! But the directors let Dalton try out an alternate day and he did the audition for Willy Wonka. The audition went well and Dalton got the part of Mike Teevee.