The odds were against Dakota Tucker when she tried out for the Bermuda Teen Idol competition.
She was a newcomer and had no formal vocal training. Even worse, she was up against the previous year’s runners-up, McKenzie Hassell and Emanuel Humphrey.
It only made her more determined.
“I felt like I had to try my best,” the 14-year-old said. “I felt I had to work a little harder to get my name out there. Even if I didn’t win, I thought I would still enjoy the experience and the process.”
After getting through the audition round in October, hosted by Inter-Island Communications, she started training in earnest. Every other night she sang at home and she took lessons with vocal coaches Sloane Wilson, Rickeesha Binns and Sheila Smith.
Then disaster struck. A week before the show last November she lost her voice.
It was particularly upsetting because one of the songs she’d chosen was Loren Allred’s Never Enough, which has many high notes.
“If my voice was hoarse I wouldn’t be able to reach them,” Dakota said.
Trying to heal, she guzzled lemon tea and wore scarfs everywhere to protect her voice.
“I was at a United Dance Production recital and people were asking me if that was my lucky scarf,” she laughed.
Just three days before the show, her voice returned.
She took to the stage with seven other finalists and stayed confident.
“If you are just standing there and being shy you won’t get your message across,” she said. “My songs were inspirational with a lot of emotion and feeling.
“I felt good [when I won] but at the same time I didn’t feel cocky about it. I felt like the achievement was good but I could always do better. I could always get in a higher place than I am.”
She attributes her talent to God.
“He gives it and he can easily take it away,” she said.
The teenager started singing as a toddler. Her mother, Calvina Brangman, thought she had a natural gift.
“My mother used to make recordings of me,” Dakota laughed. “I was so pert. I thought I was really good, but I wasn’t.”
Her first performance was in grade four in a concert at her school, The Bermuda Institute.
“Someone told the teacher I could sing,” she said. “I sang Pharrell Williams’s Happy.”
In the years since then she has often been asked to sing at churches and events around the Island, such as Designed for Impact’s Young Original Unstoppable Girls Conference and Gina Spence Productions’ annual Christmas Community and Outreach Festival, both held last December.
“The Bermuda Teen Idol competition was very fun, and gave me exposure,” she said. “It was an experience for me too because I had never been in a competition before.”
Earlier this month, she performed at a gospel concert organised by the two senior schools, CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute. Next week Friday she’ll sing at Evening Light Pentecostal Church’s Youth Rally.
Singing isn’t her only gig. She also dances with United Dance Productions, plays the piano and flute, and has modelled in the Bermuda Fashion Festival.
“I’ll be doing that for a third time this summer,” she said. “I feel like all the different activities I do connect with each other to make me more well rounded.”
But singing is her first love.
“I like singing because it sets me free,” Dakota said. “It calms me down and helps me get through the day. I sing a lot at school. I am always humming something in the shower or while I’m getting ready.”
Dakota’s dream is to become a model, a singer, a dancer and a doctor, in no particular order.
Dakota will be singing at the Evening Light Pentecostal Churches Youth Rally on February 22 from 7pm to 9.30pm. There is no charge.