Mae Ya Carter, the little girl with the big voice

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CHICAGO - You may not have seen Mae Ya Ryan but you've probably heard her.

WGN first introduced you to the little girl with the big voice three years ago, and now Mae Ya is 14.

For this Black History Month, she tells us how some classic singers are influencing her life.

The 14-year-old’s velvety singing voice is earning her a lot of recognition, so much so that she’s been compared her to her own idol - legendary songstress Ella Fitzgerald.

For Ryan and her family – music is the glue that holds them together.

She got her first taste of the classics when she was 4 years old, after her grandmother – an avid music lover, passed away.

“When my grandmother passed, my aunties and mom got together and created a cd and they have Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, all the greats were on that cd,” says Mae Ya, adding, “I remember my mom crying and crying and the cd basically just comforted her. And I just enjoyed it right along with her.”

“I just had no idea she was listening. And she told me that the music was so beautiful. At an early age, and i was just so shocked,” says mother Ina Carter.

A few years later, Mae Ya asked her mother for voice lessons.

Her talent took off, and years of dedication has earned her numerous award and high profile performances.

“My first time being on television was actually on channel 9. And I just won Dwayne Wade’s Chicago’s Got Talent contest and I was so nervous.”

Awards aside, it’s the healing power of music that makes all that hard work worthwhile.

To hear or find out more about Mae Ya, click on:

Mae Ya Carter Ryan