Courtney Hadwin: the County Durham 14-year-old who wowed America

With her astonishing voice and stage presence, channelling Janis Joplin and James Brown, Hadwin made it to the America’s Got Talent final this week – but misses her dog back home

‘I’m just a normal teenage kid,” says Courtney Hadwin. And she sounds it, dead shy on a bad line from Los Angeles. And she looked like just a normal teenage kid earlier this summer, when she first shuffled awkwardly on stage in a floral dress before the judges on America’s Got Talent.

Then she sang. Otis Redding’s Hard to Handle – “Baby, here I am, I’m a man on the scene” – became “I’m the girl on the scene”. And baby, she was there. She became someone else, with a big raw, real voice, moving like a crazed grasshopper and tossing her long hair around, as if possessed by the spirits of Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Redding, Little Richard and James Brown – by soul and rockn’n’roll itself. But her singing was not merely mimicry. She was also clearly herself: Courtney Hadwin, from County Durham, aged 13.

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