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Chapter 28: The stage 1

Hyeyoon did not expect the heavy operatic influence she was hearing in Sun Young-mi's singing. To say that she was delighted by it would have been an understatement. She had considered the performance by FOX to be amazing but from Sun Young-mi's song, she could tell that some parts of Sunflower had been transposed to a lower pitch by the others to accommodate their lower range.

If she turned to look at her fellow judges, Hyeyoon would have seen how captivated they were by the performance. Choi Hyo-Jung, the music critic, had his eyes closed and his brows drawn together as he appreciated the music without letting himself be visually distracted. It was a sign of something wonderful happening on stage.

Lee Joon-Young was simply staring at Sun Young-mi like he had discovered something phenomenal. And he had. There were many great singers in the world but someone as young as she was had no right to have such finesse. How had she not become more popular when she had such amazing pipes? He was mystified because the teenager on stage had been given the role of a dancer in her pop group when she could have been taking them to unimaginable heights with her voice. Were the people at company Y such idiots that they never made use of her singing?

"A gift upon this exhausting path of life-" the most difficult part of the song had arrived and Ji-ho slid into it like wearing a familiar comfortable sweater. FOX had nailed this part but Young-mi was going to slay it. "When we meet in another life, don't let me go again."

Hyeyoon's heart trembled and she knew who had won the competition. Anyone with ears and a feeling heart could tell that Sun Young-mi's performance had outclassed all the others completely. She placed a hand over her mouth and blinked away a tear, something that didn't occur so easily to her. As the music winded down, she was the first to give Young-mi a standing ovation which grew louder and louder as the audience joined in.

Backstage, Lee Tae-Hyun breathed a sigh of relief and placed a hand where his heart was drumming like the wings of a hummingbird. Even for him, this was the first time hearing the song being sung in it's full glory and he was deeply moved by it.

"Sun Young-mi," he heard Hyeyoon's gentle voice say with emotion. "Where have you been all my life?" The judges had begun giving their expert opinion on the performance, and Hyeyoon was the first to speak.

"That performance, that singing, it came straight from the heart. It made us all feel something. I can't speak for the others, but for me, that something was beautiful, heart wrenching."

A few voices whooped with appreciation in the audience.

"When you sing from the heart, the soul can come through, and we heard that tonight from your song, Young-mi. It awoke my heart. And to me, that's what takes a good singer and elevates them to a great artist."

Ji-ho was giddy from the heavy praise that Hyeyoon was raining on her. She gripped her microphone tightly and couldn't stop smiling.

"Your performance blew my mind completely," Lee Joon-Young said to her after Hyeyoon was done. "You ticked every box on my list, Young-mi! Style, phrasing, beautiful tone, and that buttery smoothness through the unbelievably difficult passages! What was that?!"

"Calm down son," Choi Hyo-Jung said with a chuckle when it was his turn to speak. The music critic smiled at the teenager who had won more than their hearts tonight. "Do you realise what you did tonight?"

Ji-ho shook her head. She totally aced the performance is what she did.

"You stole the show, the competition, and the song, miss Sun." Several people clapped to show their agreement with his words. "My companion judges have already expressed everything that was in my heart so I'll just add one more thing and wrap this up. I commend Lee Tae-Hyun for having had the courage to take you under his wings when the world was throwing stones at you. Don't give up, Sun Young-mi. As long as you keep singing, you'll never be buried by the haters."


It was no surprise to anyone when the results were announced and Sun Young-mi was declared the winner.

FOX had the grace to remain on stage, unlike Iris who took off the moment they announced the winner. The former was shattered completely because never in her wildest dreams did she imagine a newcomer would beat her so thoroughly. FOX realised that compared to Sun Young-mi's emotional singing, hers was soulless and dull. She'd sung it with great technique but that had been her downfall. If only she could have focused on feeling the lyrics and singing it like Young-mi.

"Producer Tae-Hyun, please come on stage and award this fabulous singer!" The host said with gusto. He had been moved so deeply by the performance and had become an instant fan.

Ji-ho was all smiles as she watched Lee Tae-Hyun take the stage. Even in his pink blazer, he was all calm and poise, an elegant gentleman admired by all his employees and most of the female population that came into contact with him.

"Congratulations, Young-mi," Tae-Hyun said to her after stopping beside her. He held out a silver music sheet and smiled. It was as beautiful and calming as his nature. Ji-ho would have hugged him out of gratitude right there and then if they weren't being watched by so many people.

"Thank you," she said to the man to whom she had proved that faith in her hadn't been misplaced.

Lee Tae-Hyun nodded once and turned to the crowd as he clapped for the singers on stage. He didn't care that Iris was going to throw a tantrum backstage, nor did he feel bad for FOX who had just been slapped hard by the hand of reality. He hoped that she wouldn't let this affect her negatively, but learn from it and become a better singer.

winterblossom winterblossom

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