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CHICAGO (CBS) — Some people are calling her a young Mahalia Jackson. She’s still in grammar school, but her voice is already memorable.

CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says this sixth-grader is someone you should know.

There’s a special kind of richness in her voice that commands the attention of her audience. Her singing is even more dazzling when you realize Mae Ya Carter Ryan is only 11.

The sixth-grader has been singing since she was seven, and during that short time she’s received a host of awards and accolades for her vocal ability.

“It makes me feel encouraged, to keep on going,” Mae Ya tells Porterfield.

Her mentor, the Rev. Bruce Thompson Sr., says the youngster possesses more than just a single talent. (

“If you ask her to sing a certain song, she always sings it in the exact same key she sang it in last week – that’s phenomenal,” he says, referring to the rare ability of perfect pitch.

The youngster’s mother, Ines Carter, says her daughter has a big dream.

“She would like to fill auditoriums full of people to hear her that she can inspire,” Carter says.

Mae Ya is being called “Little Mahalia,” a reference to the late Chicago gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

Says Mae Ya: “I listened to Mahalia Jackson, with her sound, and then I did my own little thing.”