8-Year-Old Gospel-Singing Sensation Amazes Crowds

Singing prodigy Rhema Marvanne was inspired by a personal tragedy.

ByABC News
December 1, 2010, 12:08 PM

Dec. 10, 2010 — -- Rhema Marvanne is only 8 but everywhere she performs, from a Dallas Cowboys game to a Korean TV talent show, the 42-pound Texan gets the same reaction: People are awestruck by the little girl's great big voice.

An unknown one year ago, Rhema turned into a viral sensation after her father posted videos of her singing gospel songs on YouTube. Her videos have garnered more than 18 million views and counting.

Click here to watch Rhema sing.

Gospel is her style of choice for a reason.

"God called me to do gospel and I believe gospel can touch people's hearts," the surprisingly poised prodigy said.

Watch the full story on "20/20" tonight at 10 ET.

Indeed, she sings with a depth of emotion rarely heard from someone so young. She is an old soul, shaped perhaps by personal tragedy that began when her mother, Wendi, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Rhema was 3.

But she has fond memories of her short time with her mother.

"We would do plays, like, you know, those Bible stories," she said. "It's kind of hilarious but sometimes I would be a boy and sometimes she would be a boy."

She remembers the painful times, too.

Her father, Teton Voraritskul, said he and his wife decided not to shield their daughter from her mother's illness. Instead, Rhema was there for chemotherapy treatments and much more. She was an eyewitness to some of her mom's darkest days.