It was a Sunday afternoon six years ago when songwriter Coral Pitcher was sitting out the back at the Meteor Theatre in Hamilton and got chatting to 10-year-old Verity Howells, and her mum Donna. Back then Verity was a little girl with the big voice full of passion and ambition. Now at 16 years old, Verity has just got home from the World Championships of Performing Arts, from where she brought home 12 medals, an outrageous $200,000 scholarship to New York Film Academy and a recording deal with Indasoul Entertainment and OnKey Entertainment In L.A. Coral had participated in the same competition last year and encouraged Verity to apply for 2019. With Verity back home for a few weeks, the two sat down for a chat.
I am feeling amazing! Still can’t quite believe it!
The World Champs is an international performing arts competition with over 2000 competitors and 72 countries. There were models, actors, magicians and we stayed and performed at a hotel in Long Beach. I entered in 14 categories including Singing, Modelling and Acting. The competition was two weeks and we stayed for an extra week to see my Nanna and go to Disneyland, and do some fun things after the competition was finished!
We fundraised long and hard. We did three shows and got some sponsorships with Variety (Gold Heart), Kiwanis, sausage sizzles and Mamas Donuts, plus loads more.
I’ve spent my life preparing for an opportunity like this! I grew up busking at Frankton Markets and performing at local events such as the Western Community Centre. I know it’s not for everybody, but I left school last year to focus and give 100% to my music career. I also attended boot camps, vocal training and did a lot of op-shopping for outfits for the competition.
The craziest thing was when I had 12 competitions in the day and I had just finished singing Proud Mary in one building. I had to quickly run across the road for the modelling competition, so I just had on a sparkly mini dress, running across the LA highway in 6” high heels, dragging two suitcases…
There were so many. One of my favourite moments was when me and mum were having dinner at the hotel, and we had four different record producers come and talk to us about wanting to collaborate!
Another time a guy came up to me in Dunkin’ Donuts. He heard me singing under my breath and told me he was a producer and that he would like to work with me. We were a bit busy to follow it up, but was really cool.
So I was with all the dancers and six hours into the medal ceremony they said they were gonna announce the scholarship. “The full-ride scholarship winner is…” and then X-Factor pause, my heart was racing – “From New Zealand, Verity Howells.”
Everyone from NZ started bawling and cheering, including my mum. Then I came back to her and we started crying together. I needed to go get some air, feeling a bit overwhelmed. I came back in and went to go grab my bag and then they said they were gonna announce the winner of the record deal. I thought in my head, “Imagine if that was me!”
And then it was announced… “Also from NZ, is Verity Howells.” I dropped to the floor and then when I got up onstage I asked the random announcer to give me a hug. There were a lot of bear hugs.
Then it was team photos and I had my ugly crying face! After all the madness we just needed to get away from everyone and we were both really overwhelmed. Then we phoned family and I still can’t quite believe it…
I got to meet and appear on Breakfast with John Campbell. It’s crazy working so hard and finally feeling like everything is lining up.
I performed Christmas in the Park last year, which was amazing and I am involved in a special children’s Christmas party which I headline and also a Variety kids performance at Sky City in Auckland.
I’m getting lots of homework from the record company and also heading back to LA to record in the next few months. I also have to get my NCEA level 2 to qualify for the scholarship.
To be an international recording artist and to inspire people the way my idols have inspired me!
Don’t have a plan B because that means that Plan A isn’t gonna work out. I don’t want to make money, I want to make music.