After a loss on the country’s , Charice turned to You Tube to showcase her voice, which caught the attention of American songwriter Haras Fyre.

Through his help, Charice signed with a talent management agency that lined her up with her first television gig on the U. It was December of 2007 and the 14-year-old traveled west for the first time ever, performing “I Will Always Love You” and “And I Am Telling You” on the Los Angeles stage in front of Ellen and a live audience.

She stares into the camera, commanding attention while she sings “Look at me,you may think you see who I really am, but you’ll never know me.” A deep guttural burst of sound comes out of by the time she’s reached the chorus, and it’s easy to ignore the lack of video quality or family photos perched on the desk behind her, anything that might deem this display the performance anything less than professional. Charice, now 22 in May, came out last year, but it hasn’t made her talent any less awesome.

Born in the Philippines, in the city of Cabuyao, Charice (nee Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco) has been singing since she was seven, competing in local talent competitions to help supplement her single mother’s income.

Immense popularity on You Tube led to multiple appearances on the South Korean talent show Star King, London’s The Paul O’Grady Show, and Zyrus’ American TV debut in December 2007 on Ellen De Generes‘ NBC daytime talk show.

in May 2008 (it went platinum in 2009), Zyrus was invited to perform on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the episode titled “World’s Smartest Kids” and belted out Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” “One of the things I love most about Charice is that no matter what obstacles she’s faced in her life, she’s never given up on her dream of something better,” Oprah said at the time.

There is only a small group of people in the world that are worthy of the description “born to sing,” but Charice Pempengco is one of them.

One of her earliest You Tube video performances has a 14-year-old Charice wearing a red Bebe tank top over a feminine white button-down blouse as she croons Christina Aguilera‘s “Reflection” into a karaoke machine microphone.A star’s beginning: The reality TV show circuit Zyrus’ mom Raquel discovered her child’s singing abilities when her eldest sang a big-ballad rendition of “Happy Birthday” at age 4.“My mom would do anything for me and my brother Carl,” Zyrus told USA Today in October 2010.FROM PEN: Trans Activist Juliet Evancho Opens Up About Her Sex Reassignment Surgery “I just want to say to all of you that I feel very light – that I can leave the house knowing I am not hiding anything,” Zyrus said.“I love myself, that’s why I’m able to do this.” In 2014, Zyrus appeared on an episode of Winfrey’s confronting rumors of a gender transition head-on.Present day: A much happier place In a recent interview with CNN Philippines, Zyrus described a simpler life away from much of the fanfare.