A darkened, empty stage lay before Alexis Chapa. The hum of more than a thousand eager audience members is drowned out by her hammering heart as she waits for the music to begin.
All she sees are the backs of three chairs.
Three pairs of professional ears perk to hear the voice of one nervous 14-year-old girl. For her, it means everything.
Alexis releases the first powerful notes of her song.
“Once upon a time…”
One minute later, the three chairs spin around simultaneously, as if under a spell when she sings out the words,
“Flew me to places I’ve never been…”
Paulina Rubio, Prince Royce and Roberto Tapia, the three celebrity judges on La Voz Kids, proceeded to fight for the privilege to coach Alexis.
“It was nerve-wracking,” she said happily. “When they turned around, I was in the middle of doing a note, and with all my emotions, my note went all over the place. Prince Royce actually commented on that, but I was like, ‘Whatever! I already got chosen … The song was, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble.’”
La Voz Kids is a new competitive reality series on Telemundo. Its two-hour premiere ranked as the No. 1 reality show premiere in Telemundo history, with nearly 2 million viewers tuning in. The Spanish-language version of NBC’s The Voice uses the same format, having three celebrity judges choose teams of singers to coach — only this show is dedicated to children ages 7 to 14.
Each judge pleaded their case — Prince Royce even stood on his seat and opened his arms to Alexis. In the end, though, she chose Paulina Rubio as the coach to hopefully lead her to stardom.
“She’s very nice. A lot of people think she’s a diva, but talking about kids, she isn’t, really,” Alexis said. “Even when we were off-camera, she was like ‘Oh my god, you’re so pretty.’ She was super sweet to us.”
Alexis almost didn’t try out for the competition — her mother, Rita Chapa, encouraged her to proceed despite her worries that she wasn’t fluent in Spanish.
“She only had one video in Spanish,” Rita said. “I said, ‘You know what? Just submit it. … I’m sure there are so many other talented kids … just for the fun of it, just send it.’ So she actually did, in October. … And two months later, they called us to say she was one of the 120 that would be going into the competition.”
That number was whittled down from 8,000 hopefuls, Rita said.
Alexis continued through a grueling audition process, singing and interviewing before several panels of producers and executive producers to become part of the elite set of children allowed into the first televised phase of La Voz Kids: the blind audition.
Now that she has passed it, there are two more stages for Alexis to complete if she is to win the entire competition: Beginning next week, the Battle Rounds begin, where Alexis must go head to head against other Team Rubio contestants, singing the same song before a studio audience. Each judge will choose one to advance from groups of three.
Eventually, there will be the Top 18 finalists, who will compete to win a recording contract and a cash prize, which will serve as a college scholarship. During the last phase, viewers call in to vote for their favorite contestant. When each coach is narrowed down to one protégé, the public will vote to decide who is “La Voz.”
No matter what happens in the competition, Alexis’ father Fidencio Chapa, said, Alexis will continue to pursue her dream of singing professionally.
“We would like to see her move forward and just take it from there. God willing, something comes out of this,” he said. “What has been good for her, is due to the fact of all this publicity, she’s recording her demo right now. She already has four songs — one mastered. She is going to release those new songs some time next week (on her YouTube channel, Jassel101).”
Alexis agreed, saying she had been deterred in the past, but from now on, she wouldn’t give up on her goal.
“I guess the main message here is about dreams. You know, personally, financially, I didn’t think I was able to do it. But now that I see it doesn’t matter where you come from. … If you want it, don’t give up. ‘Don’t stop believing,’ like that song from Journey.
“Just don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do it if you want to, because God knows a lot of people have told me I can’t do it,” she said. “And look at where I am.”
Though she is excited to continue, and determined to win, Alexis said that more than anything, she wants to make her community proud.
“I’ve gotten messages from all around Texas and Latin America, so that’s my main thing: I’m going to try my best to make the Valley and Sullivan City, and even Texas, proud.”
Listen to Alexis’ audition on YouTube by visiting www.youtube.com/user/lavozkids.
Madeleine Smither covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (956) 683-4425.