A young Filipino-Canadian singer is making waves in Canadian TV show, “The Next Star,” a youth-oriented competition aimed at finding talented singers under 15 years old.
The 11-year-old Darren Espanto made it through the last elimination round to join six finalists battling for the crown. The big prize comes with a two-song deal with Sony Music and $5,000 in shopping money courtesy of Sears.
Earlier, Espanto beat out thousands of hopefuls that auditioned from all over Canada to make the top 13. His audition song was “Grenade,” a hit by Bruno Mars who is also half-Filipino.
In a Calgary Herald report, Espanto explained that he chose the song because “it has a fast beat, it’s an upbeat song. And I like the tune and it’s pretty catchy.”
Though he obviously impressed this year’s set of judges, which included R&B singer Keisha Chante, country diva Tara Oram and music industry executive Mark Spicoluk, Espanto related that the three advised him to “put a little more stage presence” in his next performances.
And this is exactly what he did when he performed Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World” during the eliminations, wowing the judges in the process.
Espanto is the first Asian, the first Filipino and the youngest contestant to make it thus far in the contest.
Espanto’s parents are Filipinos from Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya.
Marites Gonzales Agbayani, a sister of Espanto’s mother, related to Bomboradyo that the family migrated to Canada in 2006.
Agbayani proudly shared that the young crooner’s talent was evident even as a tot, a skill she believed he inherited from his parents.
Hoping that her nephew will go all the way to winning the much-coveted plum, Agbayani also enjoined Pinoys to support Espantos’ efforts by voting for him online via YTV.COM.
The season finale of “The Next Star” will be broadcast in Canada live from Wonderland in Ontario on Sept. 23.