Ontario teens compete in Spanish version of “The Voice”

Two teens from Ontario competed in last night’s “La Voz Kids,” which is a kids version of the popular singing competition “The Voice.”

Unfortunately both boys, Edgar Chavez and Brian Torres, were on the same team and only one advanced last night. Brian Torres, who is nickname is “El Grillito de Ontario,” advanced.

I interviewed Edgar Chavez several months ago before his audition. The story never ran so you get a sneak peak since I’m sure I’ll be updating it with his recent experience.

Also, I didn’t know that Brian Torres was from Ontario so if anyone knows him or his family have them contact me.


ONTARIO >> To his music teacher, Edgar Chavez is known as his “little giant.”

The eighth grader at Vina Danks Middle School may be smaller than most of his peers but he has a powerful voice, said Eufemio Escalante, music director for Vina Danks Middle School.

“To me, some people have it and some people don’t. For him, it’s natural to just sing,” Escalante said.

This week, the 14-year-old will be in Miami, Florida auditioning for “La Voz,” Mexico’s version of the popular singing competition show “The Voice.”

He and his family was was flown to Florida for about a week for the second round of the competition. Edgar and his brother, Bryan, made it through the first rounds of auditions of “La Voz,” which airs on Telemundo, in a Los Angeles studio. The duo were among 3,000 people that auditioned earlier this in various states, including Texas and Illinois.

The auditions in Florida are being taped and will be later televised. Because Edgar will be missing school a private tutor is being provided.

Despite that first audition, Edgar said he is hopeful that he will be one of the contenders when the judges make their selections. It’s in part because he has been on “Jose Luis Sin Censura,” on channel 62 and Estrella TV’s “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento.”

“I think I’m confident because I have done other TV shows so I think I’m kind of use to it,” he said.

Prior to leaving on his trip, Edgar, his family and Escalante recounted his journey to get to this moment.

For as long as his parents can remember, Edgar has not only enjoyed singing but even the spotlight. Cecelia Salas and Jose Chavez said they knew early on that their song loved performing.

One particular moment that stands out to the family was when Edgar, who was just five at the time, had been persistent on singing at a family party. The problem was, Salas said, everyone was dancing.

Salas said her son broke down in tears and was eventually brought onto the stage when his uncle stopped the music so he could perform.

“I was crying the whole night because they didn’t let me sing and I told if they didn’t let me sing I wasn’t going to sing again in my entire life and so they had to let me sing,” Edgar said.

Recognizing their son’s talent, Edgar began singing Norteno, a genre of Mexican music, and banda, a brass-based form of traditional music at parties and events on the weekends when we was just 10 years old.

He then started singing with the Ontario-Montclair School District Mariachi in 6th grade while he attended Lincoln, Elementary. It was there that Edgar fist met Escalante and the two formed a bond.
In 7th grade he joined the Vina Danks Band, where he received his formal music training, Escalante said. He has learned to play the trumpet and has even won the Lou Dokken Scholarship.

While his family has always enjoyed listening to Mariachi, performing it was something new to Edgar.

“I didn’t really like singing mariachi,” says Edgar who now aspires to learn how to play the instruments found in a mariachi band. In fact, he now incorporates a large portion of mariachi songs in his performances.

With the guidance of Escalante and another musician, who has been in a mariachi group for more than 40 years, Edgar began to not only learned how to sing but perform the .

“What we try to do is not only show them not the fundamentals in the music but the passion and the tradition,” Escalante said.

But Escalante said his parents have been instrumental to fostering their Edgar’s singing career. When his teacher first began sending home music, an effort to have him practice, he would come back almost immediately having learned the song, but sometimes there would be a recording to go along with it.

“They were his first teachers,” he said.

Every Saturday, for the past four years, Edgar’s parents will drive him to different singing engagements throughout Southern California, he has even been requested to perform as far north as Bakersfield and south to San Diego.

With that kind of support, it is no surprise that music is also very much part of Edgar’s daily routine at home. The family has a karaoke machine in the garage machine and Edgar can be found inside there on most afternoons and evenings, only after he has had dinner and finished him homework.

“It’s all the time. I eat and I start singing and then I do my homework and then I start singing. That’s pretty much my whole day,” he said.

And his fellow classmates are well aware of his talents.

“At a recent school assembly he sang “La Paloma” – the girls went crazy so I told him he’s our little Justin Bieber,” Escalante said.

On the stage, Edgar is unabashed and commands a presence but away from the lights he is more reserved and unassuming. In fact, Escalante said he didn’t event know his student had auditioned, let alone make it to the second round of “La Voz.”

Escalante said his student came in one day and just mentioned the auditions in passing. It took him a couple of minutes until he realized the importance of the feat.

“That’s part of being a musician they appear to be a showoff on the stage and off the stage we are all really quite,” he said.

Edgar said he doesn’t like to showoff to others saying that this is just a passion and dream of his – to become a professional singer and one day record an album.

“We’re shy and we don’t really chat,” Edgar said as he recalled the experience he and his brother had at he LA audition. “I was kind of nervous,” he admitted.

That’s a first says his mother, who adds that not much rattles her son’s nerves.

“He’s a natural performer. It’s his passion and what he was meant to do,” she said.

His emotion and passion has been the key to his success, she adds.

“There have been times when I can see him connect with his audience, some who have cried, I can tell it just makes him sing with even more passion,” Salas said.

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