01-Nov-2014
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New Zealand's Got Talent second prize winner Kottayam girl Jessie celebrated in India (VIDEO)

New Zealand
WELLINGTON Dec 4: An 11-year-old girl who came in second on New Zealand's Got Talent is creating headlines in India.

Wellington's Jessie Hillel was the runner up to 15-year-old school girl Clara van Wel.

Sub-continental media, which love Indian diaspora stories, have given space to Jessie, a Malayali girl from Kottayam in the southern state of Kerala.

While her parents are bound by contract not to give interviews, it is not stopping her grandfather O.M. Mathew, a former professor of political science, who said the competition was hard for his little Jessie.

"It was an awesome experience," she said and added she was happy to come second.

The Hindu said Jessie had become a sensation in New Zealand, with a big fan following due to her angelic voice and also her simple demeanour.

Her grandfather said she started singing at the "age of two or three" and had been practising since the age of five.

He said her favourite Malayalam song was Pacha Panam Thathe. She was practising hard, day-in-and-day-out, he said.

"The child will have to take everything in her stride now and focus solely on music," he said.

The Times of India (TOI) said the Oruvattithara family, who called Jessie one of their own, had been praying for her success.

They said her elder sibling Julie was a talented pianist, holding the distinction of performing for New Zealand's parliament members.

"The girl has music in her blood," the grandfather told the newspaper. They noted he is a former national executive member of the conservative Hindu grouping Bharatiya Janata Party and

members of the family were trained Carnatic musicians.

Wellington Malayali Association secretary, Jomin Antony, was quoted by TOI, saying Jessie's feat was a rare one since not many talented Indians had tasted such success.

Swaroopa Unni, a Malayali from Dunedin, said: "Jessie is confident and a very talented girl. When you see her hearty smile, her melodious voice, it seems like a wonder."

NZGT 2012 JESSIE HILLEL Grand Final Performance

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FINAL EVENT

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Jessie is the youngest daughter of Kottayam native Rabi Brighu Hillel and Sigi Susan who hails from Vakathanam. Jessie's elder sibling, Julie, is a talented pianist, who holds the distinction of performing for New Zealand's parliament members. The couple relocated to Wellington in 1996 after Hillel got a managerial post in a software company.

"The girl has music in her blood," said her grandfather O M Mathew, a retired professor and former national executive member of BJP. His mother-in-law was a trained Carnatic musician.

Jessie has become a household name in New Zealand and she is also the youngest competitor to reach the final of NZGT. Secretary of Wellington Malayali Association Jomin Antony said that Jessie's

feat is a rare one since not many talented Indians have tasted such success. "She made us proud. All Malayalis in Wellington want her to win the competition and celebrate on Sunday," he said.

Swaroopa Unni, a Malayali from Dunedin, said: "Jessie is confident and a very talented girl. When you see her hearty smile, her melodious voice, it seems like a wonder."