One of the most talented jazz singers working today is seven-year-old Sophie Fatu. An America’s Got Talent favorite, singing covers on YouTube led to performances on NBC’s Little Big Shots and The Ellen Degeneres Show and the career Sophie has now. Sophie has been singing for her whole life, inspired by classic jazz artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as well as modern favorites like Michale Bublé.
We talked with Sophie and her mom, Victoria Fatu, about what it’s like to be a young artist, the making of her incredible EP, and some other interesting things that she decided to share with us. (For instance, did you know that Sophie is double-jointed? She is, and she’s quite proud of her contorting abilities.)
Exploring Music and Dance
At only seven years old, Sophie’s talents are only growing more astounding over time. But, this young cover artist doesn’t have as rigorous of a practice schedule as you might think. “I try to let her run her own course,” Victoria shared. “Basically what we do, we listen through a lot of music, and then we definitely select her favorites, my favorites, and sometimes she loves the song a lot and we decide if it’s good for her vocal range and things like that.” They want to let Sophie’s natural vibrato and vocal range develop before she starts diving into things like music theory and advanced vocal techniques.
After they choose songs, Victoria puts together a playlist that plays while Sophie is sleeping so she can memorize the songs which she does quite quickly. Once she learns a song, they start to work on her emotions, vocals, and technique. “At this age, I think it could be destructive if you try to shape the voice at five or six years old,” Victoria said, “so it’s more like you work on delivery more than anything else.” Because Sophie is so young, her voice is always changing, so they’re not putting too much energy into molding it just yet. “She still sounds like a chipmunk,” Victoria laughed. “In a good way.”
The same goes for her other musical endeavors like playing the piano and dancing, both of which Sophie loves. Sophie loves to dance to her favorite music, and in the future, she will likely start taking dance classes, including tap and jazz. One thing Sophie is working hard on right now is the pronunciation of her R’s. When we spoke, she gave us a demonstration of her progress so far, and we think she’ll have that sound down in no time.
The Next Shirley Temple?
Though Sophie records covers of songs that belong to various genres of music, her passion is for songs that are “good and jazzy.” On multiple occasions, Sophie has shared how much she loves Frank Sinatra and his iconic voice. In fact, she dreams of being as big of a jazz icon as Sinatra someday. But it isn’t the 1950s “Fly Me to the Moon” singer that Sophie often gets compared to. Instead, being young and cute, Sophie is often called “the modern Shirley Temple.”
In a biography of the child star, Shirley Temple: American Princess, biographer Anne Edwards said, “Shirley offered a natural solution: to open one’s heart.” Victoria told us that many people say the same things about Sophie, that she is bringing joy to the hearts of anyone who comes into contact with her or her music in a time when people need some extra joy. Sophie loves bringing that joy to people because performing is just as fun for her. “When I’m on the stage, I feel so happy!” She said. “It’s my favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.”
As a young jazz artist, Sophie is often compared to Shirley Temple, but Sophie and her mom have some issues with the comparison. Shirley Temple was an actress who sang and danced. Sophie is a singer who acts, so it’s a little bit different. Many of Sophie’s fans say she is the next Shirley Temple, but we prefer to think she’s the first Sophie Fatu.
Sophie, like most of us, loves romance. “She likes everything romantic. She’s a big fan of romance,” Victoria said about Sophie’s preference for love songs. “That’s why the heart is my favorite shape,” shared Sophie. It’s no wonder, then, that her EP is titled Love Is…
Picking songs that span nearly a century of jazz for a short album isn’t easy, but Sophie went with the artists that inspire her most. “I just love Dean Martin,” she said, “and I sing other songs, too, like Frankie Lyman, Tony Bennet, and Michael Bublé.” Her favorite song on the album is “Goody Goody,” a 1930s jazz song that has been performed by dozens of high-profile artists from Frankie Lymon to Lady Gaga. “‘Goody Goody’ is my favorite out of all of them because it’s jazzy, and it’s one of the songs that right away when you hear it…you can’t stop dancing!” Sophie told us.
She didn’t just perform jazz hits. Sophie recorded Love Is… in the same studio that produced the albums of the jazz legends that inspire her, Capitol Records. Recording the album when she was just six years old, Sophie is the youngest jazz artist to ever record at the famous studio. Produced by Victoria Fatu and Greg Curtis the album also features a 13-piece horn section and a 14-piece string section that includes Sophie’s dad Cristian Fatu on violin as well as the talents of famous musicians Jeff Hamilton, Chuck Berghofer, and Tom Ranier. “It felt amazing,” Sophie said of the experience.
What’s even more amazing is that we get to enjoy it ourselves! Love Is… made its debut in November and is now available on major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. That means you can enjoy six of Sophie’s favorite jazz songs performed by the young artist herself, right now!