Ava + Justin

Ava was performing on a Steet corner in Montclair New Jersey when Justin Bieber stopped by.
News Story

Performing at The Big Joe Jersey 101.5 Talent Show 

Ava performs "Malibu" by Miley Cyrus on July 9, 2017.


Smalls’ “discovery,” 11-year-old Ava Otterbein — the young singer who stopped Justin Bieber in his tracks this spring as she performed on a Church Street corner — will appear Aug. 19, too. Otterbein’s mom first approached Smalls at a Church Street concert, and a somewhat skeptical Smalls agreed to give her an audition, surprising the then-9-year-old by asking her perform on the spot, on the sidewalk.
“She was exceptional,” said Smalls, who saw her own first rock concert age at 15, the Ramones, in New York City. Smalls put her up on Center Stage, starting in 2015 — and Otterbein was singing in front of Blue Mercury for a downtown sidewalk sale in May when visiting pop star Bieber spotted her and had his driver pull over.
As seen in a video that has gone semi-viral in these parts, Bieber listens, his arms around a couple of the watching girls, dancing to the beat. He cheers Otterbein on, grabs the microphone for a few seconds to speak to the crowd on the sidewalk, high-fives Otterbein and Smalls, and takes off again.
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Joann Smalls, the music producer for Montclair Center Stage, a program of the Business Improvement District, oversees the scene on Church Street Saturday evening, July 8. ANTOINETTE MARTIN/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

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          One Friday afternoon in May, Ava Otterbein, an 11-year-old aspiring singer-songwriter, was taking a break from a performance in front of the Bluemercury makeup store in Montclair, New Jersey, when she turned around to find a stranger standing at her microphone. He was wearing a black Fear of God cap backward and started improvising a rap and joking with a small crowd of confused onlookers. Otterbein’s father was about ready to grab the punk by the neck of his Supreme sweatshirt when the boy pointed to Ava’s guitar and amplifier and asked whose stuff it was. At this point, Ava realized the person at her microphone was Justin Bieber...