Julia Cooper, a seventh-grader at Poland Middle School, is on her way to the top at a young age. At 12, her musical talents have taken her to places she said she never dreamed of and her travels have seemingly just begun. For Julie, she said the talent comes naturally.
"It just comes natural for me like it is something I'm meant to do," she said. "I believe it is a gift from God. It seems like I make people feel happy when I sing, then it makes me happy to see people smiling."
Julie's talent may come from her family. Her grandfather, Thomas Cooper, sang in choirs and barber shop quartets. At age two, she said she remembers him teaching her "silly songs," but her memory of him is mostly from photographs and tales her family tells her.
Poland seventh-grader Julia Cooper plays the piano and leads the seventh- and eighth-grade girls singing 'Let It Be' at the Poland Middle School Choir Concert held May 15 in the high school auditorium.
At age four, she got her first start singing before an audience when she sang "Tomorrow." She was already performing on stage as a Little Rascal with Easy Street Productions. Around age eight, her mom, Sandy Cooper, saw her talent and enrolled her in voice lessons.
At age nine, a family member's friend heard sing and made arrangements to have her perform at the Covelli Center singing the National Anthem for a sporting event. Since that performance she has been back several times.
Also at age nine, she took first place in the Poland Idol contest. She returned in the next age bracket the following year and again took first. As a two-time winner, she has to wait until she is 15 to compete in the event again.
She is still very active in her singing career. Besides practicing religiously every single day, she also participates in two musical groups on a regular basis. She performs with the New Castle Mini Stars and through that group will be performing at the Relay for Life events. She also performs with Liz Rubino Studios where she recently finished a role in "Back to the Sixties" at the Georgetown.
On top of those two groups, she also is regularly involved with both the New Castle and Salem Community Youth theaters and takes piano lessons.
Her talents have earned her many rewards including recording time and produced a CD titled "Decade." The title came from her reaching her 10th birthday when the CD was recorded.
Being a thoughtful person, Julie decided to sell the CD and give the proceeds from it to the American Cancer Society in honor of her grandfather.
Last month, she reached another summit in her career by competing in the GSO Rising Star competition. She made it through the first two rounds held in March and last month entered the final rounds at Thiel College's Passavant Center. Although she didn't win, she was happy for the one who did.
"I was happy that I made it through to the first two rounds, down to the last six people," she said. "A girl that I am in the New Castle Mini Stars with won. She is very good and is two years older than me. I'm going to try again next year."
For the future, she plans to keep singing and making people smile. She also wants to help another family member who is suffering with Lyme disease.
"I want to be able to make another CD and use it to help with Lyme disease," she said. "I think they should find a cure for this because it is a bad disease."