Haben Abraham of the Renton Highlands likes singing so much that her father says she used to sing “Happy Birthday” to herself.
“She was 2 when she showed the desire to be the center of attention,” says her father Mulugheta Abraham. “She wants the microphone, ‘listen to me, listen to me.’ If it’s her birthday she actually wants to sing instead of other people — that kind of stuff.”
Haben doesn’t sing “Happy Birthday” to herself anymore, but she still treats party guests to plenty of singing.
A fifth-grader at Highlands Elementary, Haben is only 10, but she has already begun to make a name for herself in the entertainment world.
Since her first public performance — in a third-grade play — Haben has performed at several high-profile events, including a March VIP event in Florida for Children’s Miracle Network attended by 1,800.
On Tuesday she will appear as one of “America’s Most Talented Kids” on “The Maury Show.” Viewers can call in their choice for favorite performer that afternoon in “American-Idol” style. Haben will be shown singing either “Tattoo” by Jordin Sparks or “Irreplacable” by Beyonce.
Haben has also performed at Renton community events, including Renton Salvation Army’s “Need Knows No Season” annual fundraising banquet and the Renton Annual Teacher’s Conference, both last summer.
Haben is part of the Eritrean Youth Dance Group of Seattle and has sung at Eritrean festivals. She is often joined by her older sisters, Salina, 13, an eighth-grader at McKnight Middle School and Lianda, 14, a ninth-grader at Seattle’s Aviation High School. The girls’ parents, Mulugheta and his wife Tiblets, are from Eritrea, a country in east Africa.
The three sisters sing under the name EriAm (Eritrean-American), and are working on their first CD, which they hope to have out by year’s end.
Haben says much of the past two years, especially the last
few months, have felt like a dream.
“It’s been so much fun, and then realizing you’re going to get a CD — that’s like the best feeling ever,” Haben says. “I want to be famous, I want to meet celebrities — Jordin Sparks, Chris Brown, everybody.”
Haben’s favorite performance was “The Maury Show,” even though she had a terrible cold.
“That was so much fun,” she says. “Even though I was sick, I was like, ‘Yay, I’m going
to be on TV.”
The Children’s Miracle Network benefit will also air on TV this June, Mulugheta says. That performance was fun, too, Haben says. She met celebrities like Marie Osmond, Mary Lou Retton and Glenn Beck, a radio and CNN Headline News host.
Home videos of the Abrahams are filled with singing and dancing, and music remains in their house today. Mulugheta played in a band in Holland and still plays guitar, keyboard and kirar (an East African stringed instrument). But he says it is Haben who “pulls the music in the house.”
It was the Highlands Elementary music teacher who chose Haben for the third-grade play who suggested the three sisters make something of their talent.
“The school teacher said, ‘Hey, you guys have something really unique, and you better focus on that,” Mulugheta recalls.
The girls are writing some of their own songs for EriAm’s debut CD. They fancy EriAm as the next Destiny’s Child.
“She has the Christina Aguilera thing going on,” Lianda says of Haben. “This one, she can do everything, she goes high, she goes low. I’m more into soul and R & B.”
Although the Abraham sisters enjoy performing, they only share upcoming concerts with close friends.
“It’s only me who goes out and tells everybody,” Mulugheta says.
But that doesn’t mean the girls don’t want fame.
Do they want to be big stars?
“Definitely,” Salina says.
“We all want to be famous and everything, but I can tell she wants it the most,” Haben says of Salina.
The entertainment world is tough, but Mulugheta says his daughters have a shot.
“I think it can’t go wrong, by the way they sing,” he says. “I’ve heard producers say, ‘You guys can make it or break it at this point. You have the talent. Do you want to practice or do you want to make it a hobby?’”
Emily Garland can be reached at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5052.
‘The Maury Show’
Haben Abraham will appear as one of “America’s Most Talented Kids” on “The Maury Show” Tuesday at 3 p.m. on KTWB/KCPQ. The performance can also be viewed Tuesday at www.mauryshow.com.