A Star is Born on Youtube

You heard it here first: Ysabella Brave will be the first genuine star to emerge from the Youtube world. And it just so happens she’s from our neck of the woods!

This young performer has a rather mysterious background. Not much is known about her — her first name is MaryAnne (Ysabella Brave is apparently a nickname given her by her father), she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has no money, and is under 30 years old. Her primary ethnicities are Portuguese and Apsaalooke, which is a Native American tribe based in Montana.

She’s the most interesting and most captivating performer I’ve seen in a long time. I find her charming, genuine, with a beautiful voice and a captivating performance style. When she looks into the camera, she’s emotionally direct, sexy and yet endearingly wholesome.

In one of her ongoing Youtube broadcasts of the past seven months, which have slowly gathered an enormous following, she explained that she has only been singing since the end of 2005, having had no formal training. She auditioned for American Idol last year, was complimented for her talent, but was rejected. “I could never sing before,” she said. “Couldn’t hold a note. Didn’t want to. And then all of a sudden, boom, I could sing. Who knew.”

Like Barbra Streisand, her voice and talents seem to have come to her completely naturally, though Ysabella herself ascribes her ability to a higher power. As one blogger uncovered, Ysabella/MaryAnne is deeply Christian, and believes her voice is a gift from God:

“I could never sing, was ridiculed and rightfully so, when I tried. Suddenly one day I tried again and everyone flipped out, including me. I figure God wants me to sing. Praying about it since has God telling me He is taking me someplace very important with this singing, and that’s it.”

Though she’s very religious, you wouldn’t necessarily know it from her songs, which she performs accompanied by karaoke CDs. In the 57 videos currently on Youtube, only one song is “religious”: Amazing Grace, which she sings in a bluesy manner recalling Tanya Tucker post-honkytonk at dawn.

One thing so fascinating about Ysabella is how flawlessly she can take on different personae and moods. In one video she’s like a perky 1930s chorus girl in a Busby Berkeley musical, in another she’s doing an amusing interpretation of Marilyn Monroe, yet in another she’s a 1970s folk singer fronting The Band, in some she even comes off as street gothic Angelina Jolie (perhaps it’s the Native American blood) — and she’s absolutely credible as each. Tell me who among today’s pop idols has displayed such range?

What I regret is that her musical choices have not yet branched out into original or more recent songs (perhaps it’s hard to locate karaoke CDs of more recent songs?) While she displays some mastery over several standards and classics of the 20th century, she hasn’t touched upon the work of this era. Do we want her to sing Britney Spears? No, but I’m sure that with her talents she could sing anything — if she worked with more recent material (shoddy though it often is!), I think she’d actually raise it up to her level.

Like her thousands of new fans, who have found out about her simply through accident or word-of-mouth, I’ll be watching closely to see what she does next, hoping she can break through to mainstream success. It will be the story of how a talented girl with a camera, a computer, and just a desk lamp for lighting, can make the world take notice of her.

Rejected by American Idol, but living the great American dream, Ysabella Brave is one woman to watch in 2007.