16 September 2022

11-year-old Candelo Primary School student selected as featured artist in major state showcase

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Harper Grae

Harper has been selected as a featured artist in this year’s School Spectacular showcase. Photo: Michael Jessop.

A year 6 Candelo Public School student has been crowned a ‘Featured Artist’ as part of this year’s annual NSW School Spectacular showcase.

Eleven-year-old Harper Grae Jessop said the acheivenment “means the world to me because I’m doing and sharing something I love to do”.

Harper’s dad, Michael Jessop, said Harper had been singing from the moment he could talk and that “his pitch was just perfect”.

“Harper loves music, he’s always singing, recently loving his guitar, and listens to all genres of music, ranging from rock, pop to country, new and old (which we love),” Michael said.

“My family are all muso’s and could hear it in his little voice from the get-go that his gift was something quite special.

“My wife Bec and I are so proud of him and how he follows his passion. We have no doubt that If he wants to, he can take his music all the way, and when you are musical, you can literally feel when someone is special and it just so happens that that someone in this instance, is my son.”

Harper’s list of achievments is already long – school captain at his former school (Quaama School), a lead role at his music camp, and senior boy champion for cross country and athletics at Candelo. The addition of performing on a big stage in Sydney is one of his proudest accomplishments to date.

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Harper’s journey in being selected for School Spectacular, a NSW performing arts showcase which involves more than 5,500 students, began with an audition video. He was chosen as one of the top 150 of 2500 applicants.

“A week or so after that, he got told he had made the cut as part of the remaining 40 students who were aiming to be selected as a featured artist,” Michael said.

“We then ventured up to Sydney for a three-day audition, where Harper had to learn five songs to perform in front of a judging panel to become a featured artist in the School Spectacular.

“After a waiting period of two weeks that led to lots of overthinking, Harper got an email with amazing news.”

The Jessop family

The Jessop family – Michael, Lakyn, Harper, Keiper, Tullow and Bec. Photo: Michael Jessop.

“When we got the email late one evening, I had held off telling him until the next morning,” Harper’s dad said.

“We actually played a bit of a prank on him and said ‘you have to be super proud of how far you’ve gotten mate, and that’s what the email says’.

“He thought that he didn’t quite make the cut.”

Harper couldn’t express how thrilled he was when he realised his parents were pranking him.

“When I read the words, ‘Congrats you are now a featured artist’, I was massively relieved,” Harper said.

“I was also a little emotional, but so, so happy.”

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Michael said this would be Harper’s first time performing on such a big scale.

“Although, he has gotten up and sang with myself and his aunties on many occasions,” he said.

“He absolutely loves performing, he tells us he feels at ease in front of more people than less.”

“Pursuing a career is definitely something Harper hopes to achieve, it’s been his thing from the moment he could talk.

“I’ve watched him move rooms with his voice, and the beauty of music and in particular singing, is that you can truly help people feel all their emotions and that’s the true gift, that he has that ability.”

Harper’s parents Michael and Bec are beyond proud of Harper’s achievements and can’t wait to see how far he’ll go.

“The scary thing is, he is only 11 years old, so the world is truly in the palm of his hands,” Michael said.

The 2022 School Spectacular showcase will be held on Friday and Saturday, 25 and 26 November at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

To purchase tickets and see Harper perform live, visit School Spectacular.

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