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Freshman Sings Her Way To Belmont Idol 2014

Lea Grace Swinson, a 14-year-old ninth grader, sang "Bound to You" by Christina Aguilera.

Lea Grace Swinson after winning "Belmont Idol 2014."
Lea Grace Swinson after winning "Belmont Idol 2014."
Lea Grace Swinson said she was pretty sure that she could win the annual Belmont Idol competition held Thursday, Jan. 9.

"I'm fairly confident that people will enjoy my singing," said Swinson.

But the 14-year-old  also realized that being an underclassman is a challenge in High School.

"I know you [don't like] freshmen," the Dorchester native told the audience.

But after Swinson belted out a soulful version of "Bound to You," by Christina Aguilera, everyone in the Belmont High School auditorium stood and cheered, having fallen in love with the ninth grader.

So it wasn't a surprise when the talented METCO student was named by emcee Melissa DeGuglielmo as Belmont Idol 2014 to wild cheering from the audience.

On a night that brought in $2,050 for diversity programming at the high school, this year's Idol performances highlighted the variety of talent from the solid rock of Ribz Daddy G and the Jamboree (performing a cover of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army"), slam poetry from Lucy Martirosyan, folk dancing by Zeyao Wang, original competition from Aimee Lin, Armenian-style pop music by Maria Airapetian ("the sweetest girl in school"), Ashley Abellard performing R&B and the sister/cousin trio (Sarah and Grace Ramsey and Georgia Parsons) singing "Hey Soul Sister." 

Other favorites were soloists Robert Montanaro and Joe Fitzgerald (performing "The Boxer" by Paul Simon) while David Korn donned a tux to sing "a la Rat Pack" a memorable version of Adele's "Skyfall."

And for the second year running, Sam Korn – who had earlier accompanied his brother on piano – entertained the audience with a great magic act including the amazing "transformation" illusion. 

Swinson – who has been attending Belmont schools (Butler, Chenery and the High School) since the second grade – has been singing since she was four years old, "so I have had a lot of time to grow as a singer."

She selected "Bound to You" because "it really wanted to showcases my range," something that she has been improving while attending Berklee College of Music's Berklee City Music which trains Boston musicians in middle school and high school. Swinson has her own Youtube channel which has many of her favorite songs. 

"I would like to be a famous singer when I get older," said Swinson, whose sister,    Taylor Hicks, graduated from Belmont High School in 2011, and is the granddaughter of Shirley Owens-Hicks, the former state representative from Boston.

And as for being Belmont Idol 2014?

"I would say by winning that I'll be known in the school and maybe upperclassmen will like me now," she said with a big smile. 

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