There’s nothing wrong with the standard gifts many girls receive for their 11th birthday: Clothes, dolls, games, toys.
When Apalonia “Apple” Passetti of Forty Fort turned 11 in August, she watched the music video to which she contributed — “Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6: Sing Gently” — surpass 1 million views on YouTube.
“You got a viral video on your birthday,” Apple’s mother, Tracey Passetti, told her. “Of all the stuff you’ve done, you got it exactly on your birthday.”
And she has done plenty.
Apple, who enjoys Broadway and opera music, has already performed hundreds of times in public spaces, she said, including PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder; and Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards.
“I love singing because I could express my voice and it makes me happy,” Apple said. “And, it makes other people happy. If other people are happy, I’m happy.
Tracey says she knew her daughter had a special talent at just 2 or 3 years old.
Having already learned the national anthem, Apple tried out in 2013 to sing it before a RailRiders game.
The audition was just a fun way to spend an afternoon, Tracey said, or so she thought.
“I really didn’t expect it to go beyond that day,” Tracey said. “It kind of snowballed from there.”
One opportunity to perform typically leads to another, as Apple has auditioned and been invited back to sing the national anthem every year since.
Please see Passetti, Page 18
Last year, she sang at the RailRiders’ home opener against Buffalo in front of a sellout crowd of 10,000-plus fans.
“She stays so calm it’s unreal,” Tracey said. “She’s at home out there. When she gets out there, she’s so happy.”
While the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdown limited Apple’s opportunities to perform in public, she has continued practicing and training, whether it be via YouTube videos or sudden “Hamilton” outbursts in the middle of the night at home.
“You’ve gotta work hard to keep it, but I was born with it,” Apple said of her singing abilities. “But, I still have to work hard.”
Tracey oversees Apple’s social media presence, which includes being a member of a quarantine karaoke group on Facebook.
Earlier during the coronavirus lockdown, someone commented on one of Apple’s videos and asked if she’d like to join Whitacre’s aforementioned virtual choir.
Whitacre’s video, which is 10 minutes and 32 seconds and blends together 17,572 voices from 129 countries, now has more than 1.1 million views since being released July 19. Forbes recently interviewed Whitacre, a Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor, about the project.
“The art of choral singing is about bringing the best of who we are and that we come together only to make something beautiful, to make something larger than ourselves,” he said. “And so it is when we see the poetry of the virtual choir — literally see it on the screen — with all of these disparate faces coming together from all over the world. We’ve had singers as young as four and as old as 98, of all races, creeds and colors, all coming together to make something beautiful.”
The daughter of Tracey and Bob Passetti, Apple is better for the opportunity she had of participating in the virtual choir, although she looks forward to returning to sporting venues and other performance arenas.
“We’ve been in places I never thought we would be, following a kid,” Tracey said. “So we let her take the lead. She’s gotta learn to take the lead anyway if this is what she wants to do, she’s gotta trust her instincts and we gotta back her up and support her.”