Born June 16, 1997, Demi Angel Downing came into this world with a head full of dark brown hair and big brown eyes to match, a beautiful birthday gift to her father. The first of three children, it was love at first sight for Demi’s adoring parents, Jake Downing and Heather Heitlauf. Little did they know their beautiful baby girl was destined for the spotlight and it wasn’t going to take her long to get there.
Never a shy one, the spunky three year old, Demi made her first public debut in a home-made leopard print costume sewn with love by her “Nana” and arguably her #1 fan, Debbie Heitlauf. That night she danced and lip-synced to Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” and as they say, “a star was born!” A love for performing and all things “leopard” began and life has been one melodic journey toward stardom ever since.
Demi Downing doesn’t really remember a time when she wasn’t singing. Her mother, Heather says, ”she’s singing even when she doesn’t know she’s singing.” You could say it’s simply a part of who she is and without a doubt, it always has been. One thing is for certain, once she opened her mouth to sing her country vocals spilled out with a soulful edge that captured the attention of anyone within the sound of her voice and has never left her wanting for an audience.
Growing up in her small hometown of Adel, Georgia, Demi was surrounded by family and friends who supported her and her love for performing including her younger brother and sister Charlee and Conner. Like many artists, Demi paid her dues singing in church, at local nursing homes, competing in talent contests, at weddings and even some funerals. She loved singing the songs of classic artists such as Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee and her all time favorite, Elvis Presley.
Over the years, Demi developed a deep love and appreciation for the King of Rock and Roll. There’d be no lullabies at bedtime for this little one. Instead, Demi preferred drifting away to dreamland while watching “Elvis” movies. “I actually fell asleep every night watching them, all the while, learning every song and growing to love him more and more. He just became a part of me,” says Demi. With the help of her soulful vocals and a custom-made Elvis costume, Demi had an act. Her devotion to the King and her increasing talent didn’t go unnoticed.
Never before had they hired a child performer but the powers that be at Tift Theatre, a popular dinner theatre in Tifton, Georgia recognized something really special in Demi that went beyond a natural beauty and a great voice. She was a star and they would be the ones to give her the first break into the music business. So, 8-year-old Demi began her first official job at the theatre performing as an Elvis Presley tribute artist and quickly became a crowd favorite.
It wasn’t long before the word was out about this cute little starlet wowing the crowd and lighting up the stage as “Elvis”. Soon she garnered performance opportunities in venues from New York to Las Vegas but one particular performance stands out as her fondest memory.
Back home in Georgia, the folks of Plains, Georgia needed entertainment for a special celebration being held at Plains High School, one of three sites among the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. Both President Carter and his wife Rosalyn attended the school that was later converted into a museum in his honor. A local woman remembered Demi’s performances at Tifton Theatre and knew they had to have her for the headlining act. To everyone’s surprise, President and Mrs. Carter showed up for the celebration! Demi performed everything from Brenda Lee’s, “I’m Sorry” and Patsy Cline’s, “Walking After Midnight” to Elvis’, “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” to an enthusiastic audience and Jimmy Carter’s famous big smile. When it was all over the dazzled president presented Demi with a 24-carat gold-dipped rose, a letter of appreciation and an invitation to attend the Sunday school class he teaches in town. For a ten year old, it was a big day to say the least and certainly a performance she’ll never forget.
From lip-syncing Shania to impersonating Elvis, Demi’s talent grew stronger and stronger. She joined the Georgia Country and Gospel Music Association as well as the North American Country Music Association International and won numerous awards from these organizations. In her early teen years, Demi realized she had a passion for writing too and it was no surprise to her fans, she was quite good at it. She also had an intense interest in the art of hair and makeup. A great voice, beauty and style as well as her newfound writing skills were shaping up to make the complete package.
With ever-growing talent and big dreams of becoming a Country music recording artist, Demi set her sights on the place where everything “country” happens-Nashville, Tennessee. Her dreams of making it to “Music City” soon came true and it proved to be a productive trip. Demi was introduced to music business veteran, Bernard Porter, Founder and President of PCG Nashville, “The Science Of Artist Development”.
After a successful audition at PCG, Demi was accepted into the prestigious program and began training with the best artist development coaches Nashville has to offer and co-writing with some of Music Row’s finest songwriters. “Demi Downing is truly a gifted young lady. She possesses just the kind of talent and work ethic we look for in an artist. She is truly beautiful, inside and out. My staff and I feel privileged to work with her and we are believing for great things in her future,” states Bernard Porter. In that bright future, Demi is hoping for a few “small” things too-recording an album of her very own songs, a trip to Paris, to perform on a world tour and have a family some day.
Rooted in her Christian faith, she is very thankful to God for blessing her with a supportive family and the gift of music. She hopes to use that gift to spread an important message to the world, especially young girls- happiness doesn’t come from being perfect but being content with who you are instead.
In spite of her love for performing as her beloved Elvis, that’s just what Demi is determined to do. Her days as a tribute artist served her well but Demi is now bravely stepping out of the shadows of the classic artists who inspired her to stand in the spotlight and proudly be who she is-Demi Downing, singer, songwriter, lover of all things leopard.