Sometimes, it pays to listen to the children. Durham Academy music/drama teacher Elizabeth South has her students to thank for a high-profile contest she just won, Ryan Seacrest Productions March Music Madness.
Using GarageBand, South recorded a version of Let It Go, the wildly popular Oscar-winning song from Disneys Frozen. It was part of Souths preparation for her kindergarten students upcoming recital of Disney and Broadway songs, which happens May 2. And Souths students loved her version so much that they insisted she put it on YouTube so they could listen to it again.
So South put her homemade video version online on Feb. 6. While it didnt quite go viral, it did pick up a very respectable number of views, starting with 70,000 the first day.
It was at about 600,000 views a few weeks later when South got an email from Ryan Seacrest Productions, the company run by the longtime American Idol host. The news was that her version of Let It Go had been chosen as one of 25 finalists in a cover contest. Five rounds of public voting later, South has been declared the winner - and her Let It Go is at more than 1.2 million views.
It was nothing I entered, South said. They found me, which I think is the biggest honor. Theres not a prize or any money for this, but its some great recognition. And theyve been asking, How can we help your career? Introduce you to any labels, some producers? So Im hoping it might open some doors.
This isnt Souths first music coup. Last year, she released a single called I Love You with a cameo duet from country superstar Vince Gill. Along with putting out a half-dozen Christian, country and pop albums, shes also reached the finalist round twice in the News & Observers Sunday Star gospel-music contest.
Id love to be able to do music full-time, but I also love teaching and my students, she said. Some people have told me that Disney should use my voice in something, which would be like a dream. If a big label wanted to sign me to tour and record full-time, I would not say no. It would be nice to get enough financial help to keep making albums, because I cant afford to keep paying for them myself. But Im content where I am. Its all good.