Education

Published on October 17th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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District Five student’s singing, acting talents earn her chance to perform on national stage

IRMO – Ask Breana Tepper what’s special about her, and she’ll likely say it’s her “small” stature.

Ironically, it wasn’t her tiny size but her big voice that landed the Harbison West Elementary student a leading role as Tiny Tim in Dollywood’s “A Christmas Carol” in Gatlinburg, Tennessee this holiday season. A fourth grader in Harbison West Elementary’s Escolares Academy, Breana will be working with Dolly Parton and others in the singer-songwriter’s management group for the next 12 weeks while working on an album of her own.

“I’m really sad to leave my friends but excited about the opportunity,” Breana said. “I’m looking forward to performing, getting better and meeting Dolly Parton. It will be sad to leave, but I plan on FaceTiming my friends and coming back to tell them what it was like. I think it will be a really good experience.”

Her talent was discovered early when then 4-year-old Breana used singing to cheer up family members and “make people feel better.”

“I remember singing in front of people for the first time when my great-grandpa died. I just got in front of my grandparents fireplace and started singing to cheer everybody up,” she said. “I started singing in front of large crowds when I was around 6…for me singing is really fun, and I just like making people feel good. This is a way to do that.”

Quite the resume for a 10-year-old, Breana has performed songs at more than 35 events since 2012, including “Let it Go” at Disney World in 2014 and the “National Anthem” at Lexington-Richland School District Five’s Back to School celebration this summer. She’s also starred in plays like the “Little Mermaid” at Village Square Theatre in 2012 and the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission’s “Annie” in 2014. Landing a role in the five-time America’s Best Christmas Event award-winning performance is the biggest role so far, said Lourdes Tepper, Breana’s mother.

“Breana auditioned with 43 girls and 7 boys for a chorus part. The boys were auditioning for the part of Tiny Tim, and I just kept saying ‘If she was a boy, she would have gotten that role,’” Tepper said. “When they called us back we were all surprised that she was picked to play Tiny Tim. They just said that the whole time she auditioned they just saw her as Tiny Tim. We couldn’t believe it.”

Breana will also be working with a singer/songwriter while in Tennessee on developing a CD including three songs that have been written for her. In addition to juggling school for the past few months, Breana also has been working with agent Tammy Johns, a former Mrs. United States, on improving her acting, stage presence, dancing, interviews and singing.

“I’m just so excited for her,” said Tepper, who studied musical therapy in college. “Breana says that this…her singing is a gift from God, and she isn’t afraid to use it.”

At Harbison West Elementary on her last few days before leaving for Tennessee, Breana seems the average fourth grader, never drawing attention to the talent that has given her so many opportunities.

“I gave out a questionnaire at the beginning of school, asking the students to tell me what’s special about them. You might have expected Breana to mention her singing, but she said ‘I’m small…that’s what makes me special,’” said Lesli Reeves, Breana’s teacher. “It’s admirable that she doesn’t want people to see her as just a singer. She’s a hard worker, a great student and someone that the other students look up to…She clearly sings better than most all of us, but for Breana her singing is just an avenue to share all her gifts with the world.”

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