Renton teenager belts glass-shattering notes

Jessica Zemanek, 13, may look like a shy and quiet teenager, until she sings

Jessica Zemanek may look like a shy and quiet teenager, until she sings.

This Renton teenager, who is trained in opera, has been making her rounds in and around King County, demonstrating her talent.

Jessica’s parents said they noticed her voice when she was around 8 years old.

It wasn’t until her mother encouraged her to learn to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that they knew she was something special. Not only was she able to pick up the song quickly, she also produced a mature voice for someone her age.

For a school talent show, Jessica learned how to sing “All I Ask of You” from the Phantom of the Opera by listening to YouTube clips. It was then the her parents knew for sure — Jessica was meant for opera.

Now Jessica, a 13 year old who attends St. Anthony, has a long singing resume.

She’s sung the national anthem at five Husky games, and she has two more games booked for the new year. She has won several talent shows including Marysville Strawberry Festival, Maple Valley Junior Idol and Magnolia Talent Show.

She also won the “Oh Say Can You Sing” Washington State Fair contest, where she performed in front of thousands for the first time.

“I did feel overwhelmed by how many people were there. But once you forget about that, you can relax and sing the best you can,” she said.

When she’s not singing the national anthems or winning contests, Jessica can be found at the Lyrica Opera Northwest shows. The last show she was part of was “La Traviata”, where she was the youngest cast member.

“This opera was in a totally different language. I had to learn it in Italian,” she said.

Picking up Italian was easier than she thought, given her background in Spanish, Jessica said.

So how does a teenager balance a budding opera and singing career? It’s not easy.

Not to mention, rehearsing isn’t always the most exciting. Jessica’s mom confessed she has to remind her to practice, especially when she has shows coming up.

Apart from her singing career, she’s like any teenager. When she’s not listening to opera, Jessica said she listens to Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and Imagine Dragons.

She admits she’s tried blending pop music and opera before, but “it doesn’t work out that well.”

Jessica plans on pursuing opera for the rest of her life and hopes to make it professionally. She said she also enjoys science and could also see herself as a nurse.

As a 13 year old, she isn’t that concerned about her career just yet. She simply enjoys being a teenager and belting out glass-shattering notes.


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