Girl gives voice to dream

January 26, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Marva Swayne has a big, big voice.

The 10-year-old sings in her church's youth choir and recently belted out "I Believe I Can Fly" in front of hundreds of people at Hagerstown Community College's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

"People were clapping in the middle of the song," Marva said as she talked about her performance at HCC. The audience rewarded Marva's performance with an enthusiastic standing ovation.

"Marva has always talked loud, been loud. Her voice is not like everyone else's," said her mother, Laverne Swayne.

Laverne Swayne realized her daughter could sing when they were driving, listening to gospel music.

"I could just hear something in her voice," Swayne said.

Marva and her mother are "testing the waters" to see if people enjoy Marva's performances.

The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration was one of Marva's first solo performances.

"It was actually kind of scary. It freaked me out a bit," she said. "Sometimes, I get really shaky."


Marva had stared at the crowd beforehand and saw some friends of hers, so she got nervous about singing in front of them, she said.

Marva started singing with the Zion Baptist Church youth choir, which performs during church services once a month, so most of the songs she knows are Gospel songs.

"I Believe I Can Fly" is the first song Marva learned that wasn't gospel music. Next, she wants to learn "The Star-Spangled Banner" so she can sing at sporting events.

The Greenbrier Elementary School fourth-grader wants to sing, "until I grow up."

She knows what she has to work on. She needs to control her breathing, open her mouth more, and slow down when she sings, Marva said.

Her mother motions to her while she sings, letting Marva know when she needs to slow down.

One of Marva's favorite movies is "Dreamgirls," with singers Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson.

"There were a lot of good parts in that movie. I really like that movie," Marva said.

To round out her musical repertoire, Marva also plays the piano and is learning the clarinet. She takes piano lessons, and learns the clarinet in school. She likes playing piano a bit more, because clarinet lessons interrupt writing class, which is Marva's favorite.

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