HAHIRA, Ga. — Cole Tucker is a young man of many voices — and he doesn’t have to move his lips to speak any of them.
The 10-year-old rising fifth-grader is a self-taught ventriloquist who has caught the attention of one of the most famous ventriloquists in the nation.
His early success has landed Cole and his parents, Mickey and Amy Tucker, a chance to meet ventriloquists from across the United States at a ventriloquist convention this summer in Kentucky.
The trip is part of Cole’s winning a nationwide ventriloquism scholarship sponsored by Terry Fator, who achieved national prominence during his championship season on television’s “America’s Got Talent."
Cole became interested in ventriloquism about three years ago when he saw a Fator DVD and was transfixed. Soon, he practiced speaking and singing without moving his lips, and how to throw his voice – all the necessary skills to be a successful ventriloquist.
Later, Cole started receiving puppets, of which he know owns four. One is a replica of the top-hatted Charlie McCarthy made famous by the late Edgar Bergen.
Cole has created personalities for each puppet. Snoopy is a soulful pup. Sonny is country-bred, singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” Sally is sassy, singing Etta James’ “At Last.”
Cole’s lips never move as he hits all the right notes for each song while simultaneously adopting a different singing style for each character.
Recently, he’s performed live in some local venues.
As a winner of the competition, Cole receives a $2,000 scholarship, a trip for two to the ventriloquist convention, and $350 toward the creation of an original puppet by famed puppet maker Steve Axtell.
Dean Poling is a reporter for The Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times.