8-year-old LaGrange singer ‘has the voice’
LaGRANGE — Lilly Barber stood in front of a crowd Saturday at Lafayette Square to sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” marking the second time she kicked off the Sweet Land of Liberty Parade, and she’s only 8.
Lilly, a rising third grader at Hillcrest Elementary School, has been singing since she was 5 years old. The daughter of Andrew and Samantha Barber, Lilly is no stranger to performing in church and school functions, but admits she still gets nervous when standing in front of a crowd.
“I think she could go great places with her singing,” said Samantha Barber. “She’s awesome … (but) a little shy.”
Lilly’s great-grandmother, Margaret Bullock, noted that the 8 year old gets self-conscious when people watch her sing at church, but reminds her that “they’re listening to your voice and the things you’re singing; you’re singing for Jesus.”
Lilly practices singing about once per week and has done so since she began three years ago. Her mother said she is very active at Faith Baptist Church, where their family all are members, performing in the annual Christmas play among others.
The Hillcrest student got her first crack at singing to the general public at last year’s Sweet Land of Liberty Parade, when her principal, Pam Doig, heard about her singing and suggested she audition. She sang in front of the board for the parade and was chosen to sing the anthem. She even received a bundle of roses from LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton at the first performance.
“This year when she was done, she said, ‘where are my roses?’” Bullock said with a laugh, noting “the honesty of children.”
Even though she didn’t get roses this year, she did follow parade grand marshal Angela Anderson in the parade along with her 5-year-old sister, Andi.
Andi “thought it was the greatest thing ever,” Bullock said.
The two girls also have a younger sister, 1-year-old Trinity.
Although singing has been a focus for the past three years, Lilly said she wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up. She also enjoys art, she said, and swimming, according to her great-grandmother.
Samantha Barber and Bullock said that they hope Lilly will continue to sing, but said her education, going to college and getting a degree are top priorities. But they also believe she has the talent to become a star singer.
“She’s got the voice, she really does,” Bullock said. “She sings a song, ‘The Air I Breathe’ – it’ll make you cry. … Everywhere she goes, people want to hear her sing for them. They know her voice.”
They plan for her to go to Atlanta and work with a trainer who mentored for an American Idol contender. They also have plans for Lilly to record a CD of music.
Otherwise, “she’s a typical 8-year-old girl,” Samantha Barber said as Lilly and her sister playfully jumped on and off a couch. “She loves school, and she’s so smart.”
Matthew Strother is editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.