What an audition! X Factor Malta was set up to uncover hidden singing gems across the island and it certainly did just tonight, with 15-year-old Ema Vella absolutely astounding the judges.
Born to Ethiopian parents but adopted by a Maltese couple when she was five months old, Ema stepped onto the stage to smiles from the judges and comments about how sweet her face is.
And their smiles soon turned to gasps of wonder as Ema belted out a powerful rendition of Etta James’ soul classic ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ which belied her young years.
Mesmerised, the judges gave her a round of applause and took it in turns to shower her with praise.
“You’ve got such maturity for such a young girl, what a big voice… Oh my gosh,” Alex Alden said.
“I think you were born to sing, you were born that way,” Ray Mercieca added. “You have a very very special gift which we call the X Factor. You have the X Factor, sweetheart. You’re gong to have a wonderful future.”
“You’re a raw diamond and this is the first time I’m using this phrase,” Ira Losco said. “The way I see it, a raw diamond is someone with all the ingredients inside them who has yet to combine them all together to become explosive.”
Howard Keith Debono then thanked Ema’s parents for adopting her and hailed them as an example to other families.
“If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be here today and perhaps you wouldn’t have the life you have today, and we wouldn’t have discovered what we discovered today,” he said.
The judge was so impressed that he actually invited Ema’s mother and uncle (her father was abroad on work business) onto the stage so he could shake their hands and so that they could listen to the final verdict.
All four judges voted her through to the next stage of the competition, with Howard describing his vote as his easiest yes of the day and Ray going a step further and claiming it was “probably the best yes I’m ever going to say”.
It’s early days yet but, with the first round of the second season of X Factor Malta now complete, it’s fair to say that Ema will be one to watch out for.