PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This week in our Focusing on the Future series, a high school graduate is using her talent to take her places. Wakisha Bailey introduces us to the young opera singer who’s sharing her voice with the world.
The Leibegott family loves to sing at their local church. That’s dad in the middle. He’s a music teacher, and there’s his wife Shelby beside him, who wanted us to meet their oldest daughter, Abi.
Abi and her mom stream Eyewitness News every morning, and after seeing our series Focusing on the Future, Abi wanted to share with us what she calls a “natural gift.”
At the age of 17 years old, Abi is a trained opera singer.
“I remember saying, ‘I’m not going to sing opera.’ Because obviously as a young kid you don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m going to be an opera singer,’” Abi said.
Her singing journey began over seven years ago. But last summer was life changing. At a singing competition in Chicago, she left the judges in awe, singing her favorite Aria from Mozart’s magical flute.
“It’s very dramatic, which all opera’s are very dramatic,” Abi said.
This one performance opened the doors for Abi in Europe. This summer she will train at the Berlin Opera Academy performing her favorite opera.
“The magic flute, I was cast as the second angel boy, which is a pretty good role, and I am understudying as the lead,” Abi said.
But this journey hasn’t always been easy. Two years ago, Abi had to undergo surgery near her throat that could’ve left her voiceless.
“I’ve been doing this since I was so little, and I haven’t even thought about another career path, so I was nervous about it,” she said.
But not Abi’s mother, because she says their family is grounded in faith.
“I wish for her to continue to use this gift not only for where she’s going but for others and in her worship,” Shelby Liebegott said.
She flies out for Germany on July 3. Opening night is July 29, and within that time, she will be learning her role and learning to speak German. Good luck, Abi.
Abi will return back to the states after a mini vacation with her family in Europe. Then, she will head to Rochester, New York, where she will be attending the Eastman School of Music. Rochester is also where CBS3’s Wakisha Bailey is from.
Know an outstanding high school senior that deserves recognition? Let us know by completing the form below and we may select the student to be featured in our “Focusing on the Future” series.