Haley Copello’s original music available online right now includes her compositions “Motown Kind of Love,” “Smile” and “One Last Shot.” They were all completed in April 2015. “Motown Kind of Love” and “Smile” are both on her website http://haleycopello.com. “One Last Shot” is available on iTunes and YouTube.

A singer-songwriter who grew up in Sonora and got her start in music here received a big boost when Steve Harvey invited her to sing one of her songs on his show in Universal City.

The show aired last week on national television.

Haley Copello, 25, a solo artist with a half-dozen finished, mastered recordings, and at least one available on iTunes, has lived in Fullerton since 2013. Until recently she’s been working two jobs to make ends meet and to help pay for her production costs and other music-related expenses.

She got on Harvey’s current show, “Steve,” the same way everyone else does. She applied online for free tickets.

“I like going to game shows,” Copello said Tuesday in a phone interview. “It’s what I like to do. It’s fun and it’s a fun environment. It’s uplifting. Everyone has high energy.”

Copello said it was her 19th birthday when she got tickets to “The Price is Right” with Drew Carey in February 2011, and she got invited that day to compete on the show. Then she got tickets to “Let’s Make a Deal” with Wayne Brady in April 2012, and she got invited to compete.

“You get the tickets free and then you have to stand out for producers,” Copello said. “You have to be outgoing. You can’t be shy. You have to be entertaining to the audience. I get picked out to be on shows because that’s my personality already.”

Copello said she won a skiing trip to Park City, Utah, when she was on “The Price is Right.” A year later, she lost on “Let’s Make a Deal.”

“But Wayne Brady asked me to sing with him so that was cool,” she said. “He asked me about myself and what I do and I told him I’m a vocalist and he asked me to sing with him. It was kind of random. He asked me to make a up song and I’m like ‘OK.’ It was improvising, like jazz singing, scat, and he scatted along with me.”

Then in January 2017, Copello got free tickets for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” She said she got invited to come up on stage, with another woman and a man, to dance with Ellen during a commercial break. She did not appear on camera during aired segments. She realized she was getting the attention of producers but she was still going to game shows and talk shows primarily because she enjoyed it.

“I was just going for fun,” Copello said. “But in the back of my mind I think if there’s an opportunity to get on the show I won’t turn it down.”

Ready for Steve

Fast-forward to early this year. Copello got an email from staff with the “Steve” show confirming her tickets to attend as a member of the audience on Jan. 11. She said the email asked what all prospective audience members get asked, would you like to ask Steve a question on the show? What would you ask? Please send a question and a photo of yourself.

Copello responded that she’d like to ask Harvey about “taking a leap of faith and leaving your job to do what you love.” About five days before the show, a producer emailed Copello that she would get to stand up to put her question to the show’s host.

“They said be prepared for a producer to call you and go over questions,” Copello said. “Be prepared to get your hair and makeup done, because they’re planning to put you on camera. You need at least a little makeup because of the TV lights.”

The day of the show’s filming, she and two friends who also had tickets to be in the audience drove from Fullerton and arrived at one of the studio gates in Universal City at 9 a.m. Copello said her friends were able to come with her through security. They were taken to a holding area separate from the audience where she got her hair and makeup done.

An employee of the show, a woman, was assigned to accompany Copello and other attendees who were chosen in advance to ask Steve a question.

“She was really fun and outgoing,” Copello said. “She asked me to rehearse my question a couple times.”

Growing up with music

Copello was born in Redwood City in 1992, and her family moved to Sonora when she was 4 years old.

She attended Sullivan Creek Elementary through fifth grade, then did sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Curtis Creek Elementary, and finished at Sonora High School.

She said she started in music at age 10 when she joined band and played trumpet at Sullivan Creek Elementary.

Then in high school she wanted to be a drummer in the band’s drumline. She took classes with Sonora drum instructor Jim E. Anderson as a freshman. She played bass drum most of the time as well as quad drums and congas.

Copello said she got into singing and songwriting when she went to Columbia College and joined the Rod Harris Jazz Choir.

“That’s where it started,” she said. “I was 19. We were singing jazz songs. We’d sing for street dances in Columbia. We’d sing back up for special guests Rod Harris would invite.”

Compositions she sang with the jazz choir included “Bye Bye Blackbird” from 1926, “Almost Like Being in Love” from 1947, “Sway” from 1953, “Fly Me to the Moon,” a Frank Sinatra standard written in 1954, and “The Girl from Ipanema,” a Brazilian bossa nova jazz song that became a worldwide hit in 1962.

Once she moved to Fullerton, she found a recording studio that offered vocal lessons and songwriting lessons.

“I always wanted to have my own original music,” Copello said.

Since then, she has written and recorded six finished, mastered songs. And she had one ready for her appearance on television with Steve Harvey.

On camera

Filming for the show started about 11 a.m. She’d never met Steve Harvey before he called on her. But she was ready when the cameras focused on her standing in the audience.

“Hi Steve, so I’m a server, I’ve been serving for 10 years and I hate it. My dream job is to be a successful musician-singer-songwriter, because I love it. But I’m having a hard time, as you say, jumping and soaring and taking that leap of faith, because I don’t make any money right away as a musician. I’m doing all these gigs for free, and it’s hard, so I want to leave my job but I still need to pay my rent so what do I do?”

Harvey has at least three books out, and the cover of his latest bills him as a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author. The title is “Jump: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve Your Life of Abundance.” Copello had done her homework and she chose her question well.

“Well, I mean you’re faced with the decision that we all get faced with, when do I jump?” Harvey said, speaking to Copello.

She responded right away, “It’s tough.”

“There is no perfect time to jump,” Harvey continued. “What you gonna end up doing though is you going to end up getting yourself into a situation where you not going to jump. You gone get pushed. One way or the other you gonna go off this cliff. Now you can jump voluntarily or you can wait ‘til you get pushed. But if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep getting what you’ve been getting. At one point of time in your life, you have got to go for your dreams. ‘Cause if you don’t never go for your dreams, when you going to go for’em? At one point in time you have to go. If you don’t make the decision to jump, you will never know what you could have been. You’re probably a great singer-songwriter. You probably are, because it’s burning in you. But you’re holding onto a job that ain’t even holding on to you. Give me an audition right now. Gimme a shot, just gimme a song you’ve written. You’re on national TV. I know this is tough but sometimes you gotta be ready. … This could be your shot.”

Copello took the microphone, told the audience she loves Motown and her first song she ever wrote was inspired by Motown. She nailed 10 seconds of her song “Motown Kind of Love” and the audience began clapping in time. Then they burst into cheers and applause.

“You have to go for it,” Harvey told her. “You have to go for it. You have a talent. You gotta go for it.”

Copello said Tuesday she’d been watching Harvey before and she knew about his book on taking a leap of faith.

“It hits home because I’m an artist and not many do take that leap of faith,” she said. “It can be challenging, and it’s something always in the back of my mind. And for him to talk to me about it and tell me you do have a talent, it was like a surreal moment.”

Switching it up

Copello said that she ultimately decided to quit one of her two server jobs before she went on television with Steve Harvey.

She said that up until early January this year, she was working 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. four days a week at the Early Bird restaurant-diner in Fullerton, and 4 to 10 p.m. four days a week at Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton.

She said was making $11 an hour plus tips at both jobs. Back then, she said, she was averaging about two live performance s a month. Copello said she quit working at Early Bird three days before she went the Steve show. Since then, she said, she’s averaging seven to eight performances a month.

“I’ve got a lot more gigs, some that are paid, some that are not paid,” Copello said. “I’ve been opening a lot more shows, just by putting myself out there. I’ve been playing before live audiences, in Santa Ana, in Hollywood, and Anaheim I have a show coming up before 800 people in downtown L.A., at Exchange LA, and some smaller venues.”

On Tuesday this week, Copello emphasized she knows she said she hates being a server, but she doesn’t really hate it. She said she is grateful for all work that’s allowed her to support herself and pay her way and pursue her dream.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter @GuyMcCarthy.

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