A couple who have spent years honing the musical talents of youngsters in Hartlepool have said they knew America's Got Talent star Courtney Hadwin had something special from the start.
Peterlee school pupil Courtney, 13, sailed through to the live TV shows of the hit programme after blowing away a panel of celebrity judges with her powerful voice.
She auditioned in front of stars Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel and wowed them with her rendition of the Otis Redding classic Hard to Handle.
The youngster, from Hesleden, appeared quite nervous when talking to the judges before her performance but came into her element when she started singing.
She was given the Golden Buzzer by judge Howie Mandel to signal that she has made through to the live shows in the competition.
And now those who knew her before her incredible performance have said they always knew she had an incredible voice for someone so young.
Ian and Dawn McManus, the founder of new creative hub Kyle's Dream in the town, worked with Courtney through the musical charity Red Dreams.
Mrs McManus said: "When she was on the show she was really meek and mild and she is really like that, she is very shy and finds it hard being in crowds.
"So it is surprising that she has that voice as she is just a tiny little thing.
"We have known Courtney since she was 11 through Red Dreams and she always had that unique voice, but she has got more control over her voice now.
"I can't imagine what she will be like when she gets older!
"When she came to us she was already at such a level that we could work with her straight away and we sent her out to perform at events in the town to build her confidence up.
"She is a such a grounded normal young girl, it is great to see her doing so well.
"We watched her performance on TV and when she got the Golden Buzzer it was just brilliant and we were very proud."
During her time with the charity Courtney even won the Red Dreams 1voice under 16s talent competition, aged just 11.
Since then Courtney, a pupil at The Academy at Shotton Hall, has built up a list of achievements to her name including winning the title of the Hartlepool Mail’s Performer of the Year at the Best of Hartlepool Awards last year.
But the teen, who has been signing for a number of years, after taking singing lessons, is no stranger to the limelight of TV, having already stared in the ITV’s The Voice Kids last year.
Courtney made it to the final of the show after being put forward by judge Danny Jones, but narrowly missed out on the title, which was won by Jess Folley, one of rival judge Pixie Lott’s choices.
Contestants competed to bag a family holiday to Disneyland and £30,000 towards their musical education.
But despite missing out on the title, Courtney’s performances on the show earned her a string of rave reviews from a new army of fans on social media.
Since then, the young talent has continued to make a name for herself in the region, appearing on stage at the of Waterfront Festival held at Jackson’s Wharf last year.
The teen also appeared as part of the South Tyneside Festival summer concert line up in Bents Park in South Shields in July last year where she entertained more than 18,000 people.
The schoolgirl was supporting music legends Sister Sledge at the annual event, which saw her manage to get the crowd on their feet during her energetic three-song set.
In a post on her Facebook page Courtney Hadwin said: "I didn't know what to expect when I auditioned for America's Got Talent but the Golden Buzzer was more than I ever could have dreamed of.
"Thank you so much Howie Mandel I am so happy and can't thank you enough."
The video of her audition has been viewed 16 million times.
The show, presented by supermodel Tyra Banks, hosts acts of all ages, including singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists and impressionists, who are all vying to win America’s hearts and $1 million.