The first thing you notice is the voice.


Once you hear Fort Osage High School’s Aniya Henson sing, you realize why she is a semifinalist in the 2020 KC SuperStar competition.


The young lady with the powerful voice offers far more than a voice that can break through the doubts and fears of the COVID-19 pandemic and bring some light and love to a world that desperately needs it, her instructor says.


"What makes Aniya Henson special is not only her amazing singing voice, but her outstanding character, fun sense of humor, outgoing personality, and her love for God and others," said Julie Ammons, the Fort Osage High School choir director. "I’m blessed to get to work with such a wonderful young adult that is using her God-given gifts to the best of her ability."


It comes as no surprise that Henson has been singing since she was 3 years old.


"I guess you could say I have been singing all of my life," said Henson, who will be a senior at Fort Osage in the fall. "I sang in our church’s kids choir and have been singing as long as I can remember.


"I am so blessed to come from a musical family. My dad plays the saxophone, keyboard and piano and my older brother plays the keyboard and piano. And my aunt, Kelly Henson, has an amazing voice and everyone tells me that’s who I was blessed to get my singing voice from.


"If you come to my house – and everyone is welcome! – you are going to hear music and you are going to feel the love."


Ammons is happy that Henson will get to show that voice to a wider audience in the KC SuperStar semifinals, which will be done virtually Aug. 23.


"I’m excited for Aniya as she competes in the KC Superstars because she is gaining more real life experience that will help her down the road with her career," Ammons said. "Each audition, interview, networking opportunity and performance will allow her to grow, and ultimately help pay for college. The bottom line – we need more Aniyas in the world."


Henson’s respect for Ammons is apparent as she talks about her choir teacher.


"Mrs. Ammons is a great teacher who has taken me places I didn’t know I could go," Henson said. "She saw my potential early on and she pushes me to be the best singer – and person – I can be. I am so blessed to have her as a teacher.


"She helped me develop my voice and grow as a person."


The 10 semifinalists will go on Aug. 23 to Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, where they will perform in front of the judges only at Yardley Hall. There will be no live audience but the performance will be shot live and be put on its website, kcsuperstar.org. Videos of the semifinalists can be seen on the website prior to the live competition.


"It’s different, that’s for sure," Henson said, "but I’m not worried about that. I have performed in front of a camera and I know what to expect. It’s all kind of intimidating, but it’s also a challenge and a lot of fun. I’m really honored to be a semifinalist this year."