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Why America's Got Talent sensation Courtney Hadwin was always going to be a star

She's the North East schoolgirl who's wowing a TV audience of millions on the latest series of America's Got Talent, which reaches its climax tonight.

But audiences closer to home have known for some time that 14-year-old Courtney Hadwin, from Hesleden, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, is going to be a star.

Courtney Hadwin has been installed as the favourite to win America's Got Talent.

Courtney Hadwin has been installed as the favourite to win America's Got Talent.

A pupil at The Academy at Shotton Hall, Peterlee, she first impressed with her powerful voice in an open mic session at her school.

In June last year she was brought to the attention of TV audiences for the first time, when she was a finalist in The Voice Kids.

Read more: You are a superstar in the making' - Courtney Hadwin wows judges in America's Got Talent final

She didn't win, but her performance opened doors for her as an up and coming singer.

Courtney Hadwin wowed the crowd at Bents Park, South Shields, in July 2017 at the South Tyneside Summer Festival.

Courtney Hadwin wowed the crowd at Bents Park, South Shields, in July 2017 at the South Tyneside Summer Festival.

She appeared at the South Tyneside Summer Festival in July last year as one of the warm-up acts for Sister Sledge.

And, as our video shows, even at the age of 13, she had the ability to command the attention of a crowd.

Read more: All you need to know about Courtney Hadwin, one of the favourites to win America's Got Talent

She received a rapturous reception for her support set, which ended with a stunning rendition of Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits.

Courtney Hadwin impressed the Bents Park crowd with her support slot for headliners Sister Sledge.

Courtney Hadwin impressed the Bents Park crowd with her support slot for headliners Sister Sledge.

It left compere Anna Foster from Radio Newcastle gobsmacked, and asking "Courtney, are you really 35 in disguise?"

And the presenter asked the crowd at Bents Park in South Shields: "Do we think this girl has a crazy, mad future ahead of her?", prompting huge cheers.

Courtney's burgeoning talent was recognised again in November 2017, when she was named Performer of the Year at the Best of Hartlepool Awards.

Read more: Courtney Hadwin 'a winner anyway' whether she wins America's Got Talent or not, says music charity founder

She auditioned for America's Got Talent back in March, performing the Otis Redding song Hard To Handle.

It impressed judge Howie Mandel so much that he gave her the 'golden buzzer', which meant she progressed directly to the live shows.

In the quarter-finals she sang James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, and in the semi-finals she performed Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild.

In last night's final she wowed the judges again with her rendition of Tina Turner's River Deep Mountain High, which had Mandel describing her as 'a superstar in the making'.

Tonight, up to 12 million viewers across the United States are expected to tune in to see if Courtney can take the next step in her remarkable career by winning America's Got Talent.