Tyler Thompson Sings Chinese Opera
Tyler Thompson is an African American 4th grader who sings and loves Chinese opera. He lives in an African-American neighborhood, but attends public school in Chinatown. Tyler was in first grade when, hearing his "angelic voice," his music teacher began teaching him Mandarin folk songs.
He learned so well and was so enthusiastic she cast him in the school's Chinese opera production; as one of the leads, he must combine mime, song, and acrobatics. Tyler doesn't speak Chinese so he learns by rote from tapes. He must have a great ear, because his Mandarin accent is supposedly "impeccable."
Since the Wall Street Journal article, Tyler has become a media darling; he says he likes the publicity and that when he grows up he wants to be "the same as I am now -- a Chinese opera singer." Onstage, he gets a "tickly feeling" in his stomach.
Tyler's neighborhood friends, Walter, Je'lon and Marcus, think his singing is weird. "But as long as I'm supporting them in what they wanna do, they support me in what I wanna do," he says.
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