The Imperial Valley College English instructor has always enjoyed singing, but now he’s taking his talent to the people in hopes of gaining enough votes to be the next Mariachi Idol.
“My family is excited because they know how much I like to sing,” said 33-year-old Garza, of Calexico, who impressed the judges with his rendition of “Hablando Claro.”
Garza is among three singing hopefuls who have earned the chance to liven up the city through song this week as they vie for the Mariachi Idol title at the annual Mariachi Festival. The first level of the competition was Tuesday night at the Calexico Cultural Arts Center, with performances each night through Saturday, where people will be able to vote for their favorite.
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Southwest High School student Alejandro Hernandez, 18, of El Centro also earned a spot in the competition and he’s hoping to win because he wants to invest the prize money for his studies at San Diego State University in the fall.
The winner gets a plaque and a small cash prize. Last year’s winner got $150.
The third and final contestant to earn a shot at the prize is 43-year-old Beatriz Robledo, who works at Holiday Inn Express in Calexico.
Four judges, including Calexico Chamber of Commerce board president Monica Ketchum and Executive Director Hildy Carrillo scored the contestants and made sure they were ready for the competition.
“We want to make sure that they can sing,” Carrillo said.
The first year of the competition they had as many as 60 people show up for the first round, but people saw how serious the competition was and the number of participants decreased, Carrillo said.
There are three requirements to participate. The contestants cannot be professional singers, they have to be from the Imperial and Mexicali valleys and they have to commit to perform for three nights in a row until Saturday.
The organizers also encourage contestants to dress accordingly for the audition. Contestants showed up wearing traditional Mexican and mariachi costumes.
People can vote for free every night the singers perform except on Saturday. On the night of the big concert people get five votes for $1. The money collected for the votes goes to help with the expenses of the festival.
Guitar instructor and Mariachi Idol judge Patty Hurtado said she was hoping to find a great new voice. There are many talented people in the Valley, she said.
Hurtado is a voice coach and she said that with the right technique everybody can sing.
“If you can talk, you can sing,” Hurtado said.
Multimedia Producer Laura Gonzalez can be reached at 760-337-3440 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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