Aliso Viejo Singer Celine Ngo is a Member of Acapop! KIDS

Acapop! KIDS is an a capella singing group whose covers of popular songs have garnered millions of views on YouTube and earned Celine the chance to perform on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

A capella singing is so cool because you pretty much are the instrument with your vocal cords. It’s challenging but so satisfying when we all sing together.

At age 14, Celine has landed more professional opportunities than most singers twice her age. The Orange County School of the Arts student grew up attending theater classes at The Center Stage Studio in Aliso Viejo and has performed in shows such as “Annie” at the Chance Theater and “A Christmas Carol” at South Coast Repertory. But she says that being selected for Acapop! KIDS was a shock.

“It all started when my mom (heard about) the audition from her friend,” she says. “We sent in the audition tape for fun because the chance of me joining the group was really slim. I actually sent in the tape two weeks late. I was really surprised I made it to the callback and the final round. I was so excited when I found out I got in. I think I was crying. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Acapop! KIDS was founded last year by a number of industry pros, including Scott Hoying of the Grammy Award-winning a capella group Pentatonix. Its debut album, “ACAPOP 1,” dropped earlier this year, featuring impeccably produced tracks such as “Shallow,” “Valerie,” and “Fix You.” The group’s music video for a cover of “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco is its most popular on YouTube, reaching 10 million views so far.

“It’s like I’m in a dream,” Celine says. “I love Acapop! There are so many things I love about being in the group. I’ve made friends with Acapop! kids all over the country. We have a special bond.” There are about two dozen young people in all, though most performances feature only a few at a time.

The group has appeared on “Good Day New York” as well as “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” where Celine and eight other performers sang a medley of the singer’s hits. “Performing live on TV was different because you can’t really mess up. I wasn’t really that nervous before because I felt really ready, and Kelly Clarkson was so nice. She’s like one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

Celine says she doesn’t struggle with balancing school life with music because OCSA encourages students to pursue their careers in the arts. “If I have to film an audition, for instance, I just tell my teacher,” she says. “I love to learn and I’m super speedy, so catching up doesn’t take me long. I always remind myself that grades are super important.”

Although the pandemic has halted some aspects of production, Acapop! KIDS is still releasing new music online. “I’ve been lucky to be a part of mini Acapop! KIDS videos where we (film) them at home, and there’s lots of content that we’ve filmed during quarantine.” Celine is also using this time to improve her vocal technique via virtual lessons. But she dreams of returning to the stage and even going on tour. “Singing in front of a huge crowd and making people happy sounds like heaven.”

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