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Her mother, Alison Yeung, is quoted as saying that she only began singing "a few years ago." Her singing career was rather limited until she auditioned for the third season of Canadian Idol in February 2005.
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High school is hell - especially if you're the Canadian Idol.
When Melissa O'Neil won the TV singing contest last year, her classmates were starting Grade 12 at Lester B. High school is hell - especially if you're the Canadian Idol.
But expect to see some of the trauma resurface in the lyrics of her next album (which is due early next year).
She plans on co-writing a stripped-down un-Idol-like disc, in which she bares all about her family and life pre- and post-competition.
As proof, she cites the graduation ceremony at which O'Neil received the same amount of applause as all the other students.
Still, O'Neil skipped out on the banquet part of the evening.
She played Maria in West Side Story and Carmen in Fame, the character who sings the title song: Fame, I'm gonna live forever / Baby remember my name.
"I had given two years of my life and invested everything into that school," says O'Neil, "academic-wise, athletic-wise, creative-wise. I was the new dorky kid that no one likes." The consensus around school was that fame had changed her, turned her into a diva - and it became cool not to like her.
"It was such a good, exciting environment through the whole Idol voting thing," says former classmate Dan Hasegawa, 18 (who played Tony to O'Neil's Maria).
"But as soon as she didn't come back for Grade 12 and was off in Toronto, everybody just started saying things and making up stories and boiling up this bad image of her. I think people were just jealous." O'Neil's music teacher, Kathryn Riben, chalks it up to a maturity thing.
But I think as teenagers, that was a harder concept to grasp.