‘La Voz’ singing competition launches at UNG Gainesville

“La Voz,” named after the popular NBC TV show “The Voice,” gave students the opportunity to showcase their talent in a singing competition with one catch: Their performance had to be in Spanish.

Gabriela Miranda Herrera performs at “La Voz.” (Photo by Selene Godina)

The Spanish department, the Latino Student Association and the Migrant Student Union collaborated to host La Voz for the first time on Nov. 11 at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.

“We’re planning for this to be an annual event,” Dr. Bonnie Holmes, assistant professor of Spanish, said via email.

Each participant tried out for the competition in late October with a song of their choice. Participants competed against each other for a first place cash prize. The judges evaluated each singer based on their song choice, talent, tone of voice and eye contact with the audience and judges.

The competition was judged by Spanish professor, Garry Merritt; Yesenia Aguilar, an international relations major; Beatriz Martinez, an education major, and Yajaira Ramirez, a biology major. The judges gave commentary to each participant in both Spanish and English.

Of the 12 participants, many chose to perform traditional songs that represented the Hispanic culture as opposed to choosing a modern pop song. Some of the artists chosen were well known in the Hispanic culture, such as the famous Mexican singers Vicente Fernandez, Alicia Villarreal and Juan Gabriel.

The winner of the competition, Roany Casas, sung “No Me Se Rajar” by Fernandez.

“It’s pretty much one of those songs that fits my attitude and my personality. You could say it’s my ace card,” Casas said.

For some of the participants, Spanish was not their first language. Four contestants are in the process of learning Spanish as their second language, two of whom chose contemporary artists Christina Aguilera and Shakira. The other two chose the well-known songs “La Bamba” and “Como La Flor.”

A few of the participants even wore traditional Hispanic clothing to match their song. Casas wore a charro suit, a traditional outfit worn by a Mexican cowboy including its most iconic element, the sombrero. Vanessa Reyes wore a rendition of the china poblana outfit, which usually consists of a white shirt and wide, colorful skirt.

“It was a fun experience and many other people should definitely try it,” Sthefany Pedraza said via email.

The winner, first and second runners-up, and prizes were announced at the end of the event. Casas received a cash prize of $100. The first runner-up, Javier Santos, received a $50 gift card to Amazon. Pedraza was the second runner-up and received a sweatshirt from the UNG bookstore.

“This was kind of like testing the waters on Gainesville campus because next year they are planning to spread out with all five campuses. It’s in the plans,” said Casas, business management major, who participated in the event.

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