MAMARONECK, N.Y. – When 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar of Mamaroneck took the stage to sing "Feeling Good" on the Fox singing competition "X Factor" Thursday night, she left the judges feeling just that.
Seconds into her soulful rendition of the Nina Simone song, the Providence, R.I., audience of 4,800 people was cheering. The obligatory smiles of the judges, including Britney Spears, L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato and even Simon Cowell, soon turned to gapes.
"That's not you, somebody is behind you, behind the screen singing that song," Cowell joked after her audition got a standing ovation. "I promise, I promise," Sonenclar assured him. He then told her what many hopeful singers wish to hear: "A star has just walked out on that stage."
Her parents, Bob and Terri, stood off to the side of the stage smiling and laughing. "My mom is a graphic designer and my dad is a copywriter, but I want to be a superstar," Sonenclar told "X Factor" during a backstage interview before her performance.
After the judges voted her into the next round boot camp, Sonenclar told "X Factor" that it felt like she was watching somebody else on stage. "I'm so used to watching the TV show and seeing other people up there and getting that kind of reaction, wishing it was me," she said. "But that time it was actually me. So it was kind of amazing, I just have no words for it."
Sonenclar previously appeared on Broadway in "Les Miserables" and "Wonderland" and starred in "The Electric Company" on PBS. According to her website, she is an ambassador for tri-state chapter of the Starlight Children's Foundation.
Fans from all over the country took to Facebook to congratulate her. "Great job on the X Factor! I've been a fan of yours since 'Wonderland' and I can't wait to see what happens next while you're on the X Factor," Lindsay Burton of California posted to Sonenclar's official Facebook page.
"I live all the way in Arkansas, so realize your voice carried all the way down here! Our radio stations were playing your clip this morning!" Sarah Lowery said on Facebook.
Locally, Sonenclar performed in the "Rising Stars" competition hosted by Jazz Forum Arts in Dobbs Ferry. Mark Morganelli, the executive director of JFA, said the crowd was amazed. "They loved her," he said. "You know she's got talent. She's going places."
Sonenclar's talent even caught him off guard during a New York Mets game at Citifield last month. "I heard someone singing the National Anthem and I was digging it. I look up and I said, 'Whoa! That's one of our contestants, one of our winners!' "
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