BY JASON COHEN
She has been on Broadway, performed at the United Nations and sang the national anthem at colleges and high schools throughout New York City.
Layla Capers, 11, of Wakefield, who was Nala in the “Lion King” before COVID-19 shuttered Broadway, has been singing from her front porch every day at 7 p.m. to bring hope and encouragement to her community and give thanks to doctors, nurses, health care workers and essential workers.
“I came home from Broadway and noticed all the hard work the doctors, nurses and essential workers are putting in,” Capers said.
She noted that many nights her neighbors are outside waiting for her to sing. She has performed songs by Alicia Keys and other songs like “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.
Her mom Diana Capers is proud of her daughter.
“I really enjoy how she’s turned such a trying time into a positive,” Diana said.
Capers found her passion for singing at 4-years-old as she sang along to Disney songs, family karaoke nights and during worship at church. By age five, Capers was a performer at the I Can Sing Vocal Showcase. Her love for the stage and natural stage presence began to open many doors for her.
While performing in church, they suggested she get a vocal coach. Eventually, she did and hired Conrad Robinson, the same person who discovered Alicia Keys and H.E.R.
Things changed in the summer of 2018. Diana posted videos of her daughter singing and was soon contacted by a man who would eventually become Capers’ manager.
He quickly landed her an audition for “School of Rock” and at 9-years-old, she was on Broadway.
“I first thought wow it’s incredible, I’ve always dreamed of being in that role,” she exclaimed.
Her life turned upside down. While most kids were seeing movies, playing outside or glued to tablets, she was going from school to Broadway and home every day.
She recalled that it was a bit of an adjustment at first. She had to do all of her homework in the car and wouldn’t get home until 11 p.m. However, she was living her dream.
“I don’t really get nervous,” Capers explained. “I’m just really excited. I knew I wanted to be in musical theater and onstage one day.”
Then in November 2019, she landed the part of Nala in “Lion King.” She was in the show until March when the coronavirus closed Broadway. This has allowed her to spend time with family, but she does miss seeing her friends.
She is studying at the GIFTED Performing Arts Program, where she is training for piano, guitar, hip hop, contemporary dance and acting.
You can catch Capers singing at local churches, talent shows, street fairs and many other community events. She will also appear on Sesame Street for Season 51.
“It’s so crazy sometimes,” she said. “I feel so grateful.”
This story first appeared on bxtimes.com.