The girl who sings somewhere over the rainbow


IF birds can fly over the rainbow that bridges heaven and Alotau then 11-year-old Helen George believes she can too.
And if that rainbow that appeared recently over her hometown is a sign that sunshine will follow then Helen believes too that her days in the shadows are not forever.
Helen’s dream is to be a singer. Not just any singer. A good one. And she pursues that dream day in and day out by singing her favourite songs both from stars here and overseas. She sings everywhere – at home at Alotau Top Town, at Goilanai Primary School where she is at, and anywhere else where she can. Yes, in the shower too.
One of her favourites is, of course, Over the Rainbow, that famous Judy Garland ballad for the movie The Wizard Of Oz.
We fiddled with Wikipedia to find out more.
Over The Rainbow was written for the movie and composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Edgar Yipsel Harburg, two Jews who had escaped Nazi Germany to the United States.
The duo were signed by Metro-Goldwyn Myer in 1939, and they came up with the score for the film The Wizard of Oz in which Judy Garland, at age 17, played the title role as Dorothy Gale.
We showed Helen the film clip of Judy singing the Over The Rainbow to. She gaped. She gasped. She searched for words.
Helen has already been “on the road” (make that “around the house”) giving impromptu make-believe performances, especially for family fun gatherings at home.
Her latest gig was this month to celebrate her cousin Nahina Anere’s 17th birthday at Alotau.
The party was in full swing with a cake baked by long-time family friend and neighbour Bubu Beatrice. The atmosphere was cluttered with teenage giggles and laughter as they huddled on the verandah to watch a movie.
Then Helen heard an encouraging cue from behind the curtained dining room, and she walked in announcing she needed to pay tribute to the birthday girl. But the noise didn’t stop. She announced a second time, then – without announcing it a third time – burst into her rendition of Over The Rainbow.
One by one members of the family became silent as Helen sang her way up and up and over her imagined rainbow.
They applauded and Helen smiled.
When in a house with other siblings it is not easy trying to be a star. “You are not the only one who can sing!” she was once told but Helen takes the challenge in her strides and dreams on.
It’s early days yet and no one knows for sure how Helen will develop or where she will finally end up. But at her age, it is not a bad thing to dream. And right now, whether she is – or is not – the only one in the family who can sing does not matter. Helen knows what she wants and if that involves walking on a rainbow then she will.

  • Biga Lebasi is a freelance journalist

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