Teacher compares Clara to Kimbra
Long-time Marlborough Girls' College music teacher Robin Randall realised Clara van Wel's talent when she arrived at the school last year at the start of year 9.
He insisted she was too good to be studying year 9 music and moved her up a level.
The rest of her teachers soon saw the same ability in their subjects and she was moved up to year 10 after about four weeks at school.
This year she has studied NCEA level 1, and is expected to pass despite missing a couple of exams because she was recording programmes for the New Zealand's Got Talent series. She was named the winner on Sunday night, with a prize pool including a recording contract, $100,000 cash and a car.
Mr Randall said he had first heard Clara busking at the Marlborough Farmers' Market.
"She's been doing it a while and she's come a long way," Mr Randall said.
He was proud of his student, but was not surprised she won New Zealand's Got Talent.
"What sealed it for me was she had the ability to sing and write her own music, and it was quality stuff."
To sing and create a song was something special, he said.
"She is naturally talented at composition and she has such a quirky voice."
Clara's guitar skills were also advanced for a 15-year-old, he said.
"She has amazing guitar skills - you never hear a twang," he said. "She's got the whole package."
That special character was comparable to internationally acclaimed New Zealand pop singer Kimbra, Mr Randall said.
"Not in their musical style, but they are similar in that they're both very unique in their own way."
He was confident Clara's school life would continue as normal when she returned to school next year, which would hopefully mean resuming her role in the college choir, Bella Voce.
"She's still pretty grounded," he said. "She's very, very modest - there are no airs or graces. As you see her, that's how she is all the time."
Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart said the school was "incredibly proud" of Clara, who was also a good debater and an all-rounder.
The Marlborough Express