The Voice Finalist Anatalia Shares About Alicia Keys, Bullying and Her Filipino Blood

170224_3476284_Anatalia_Villaranda_Blind_Audition___Runaway.jpg

For years, the world has witnessed Filipino blood take the spotlight in whatever field they’re in. In the most popular of all fields, the international music scene gave the biggest attention for Pinoys to be known all over the globe. From Broadway shows to nationwide music competitions and reality shows, Filipino’s are seen as stand-outs. Starting with world-renowned musical actress Lea Salonga, to pop sensation Bruno Mars and famous rapper apl.de.ap; breakthrough popstar Charice, powerhouse Idol Jessica Sanchez, and even locals who made marks in other countries such as Jed Madela and Rachele Ann Go. Filipino pride is incomparable, and you really can’t blame us for being proud, because definitely, there’s just really so much world-class talent from the country.

Another Pinoy talent vying to get out there in the music industry is 16-year-old Anatalia Villaranda from Temecula, California. Anatalia is a four-chair turner on the new season of The Voice, after lighting up the stage with her powerful performance of ‘Runaway Baby’, which led her to Alicia Key’s team. Since her blind audition, people have been rooting for her and has traced her every video on YouTube. And just recently last week, the young singer once again showed America just how great her voice is in the Battle Rounds. She went head to head with Sacramento native Missy Roberston.

In an exclusive interview with 89.5 Star FM, Anatalia shares what it was like to perform in that round of the competition and how tough it was to battle with someone who had more experience than her. She tells us, “I was very surprised because I’m battling against Missy. She is phenomenal, and our age difference definitely had me a little bit worried because she is 35 and I’m only 16, and it was definitely a tough choice.” Despite the fear, she says that she reminded herself to just enjoy the performance. “I know I just got up to give it my all in that stage, having no regrets and just really giving my all and just having fun with it. So basically, no matter what happens, I know that I had fun on stage, but I was definitely a bit concerned  on who’s going to win that because I believe that Missy is really talented and she’s definitely older and has more experience than me.”

Anatalia also compared her performance in the battle round and on her blind audition. “I was definitely more comfortable [performing in the battle round] because in the blind auditions, you have in the back of your mind that you have to make it on to a team and you’re waiting for people to turn their chairs.”  She also believes that the blind audition was a very risky performance because it determined their fate in the show. “I was like wondering if I was going to make it or not, I didn’t know if I was going to make it until the end of that performance, but I did feel more comfortable on stage performing with Missy because it was a lot of fun and I just had like some background to it.”

nbc
Photo. NBC

After the pair’s duet of ‘Tightrope’ by Janelle Monáe, coach Gwen Stefani commended her stage presence and called her a ‘firecracker’. Adam Levine on the other hand claims to have witnessed a two-hour concert in front of him while Blake Shelton feels that the performance deserves to be on the Grammy stage. In the end, Alicia chose her to remain in the competition— much to her surprise as she believed that Missy was going to make it. At only 16, she is expected to go against technical singers from all over America, and hopes to make it even further in the competition. While fans are following her every move and waiting for what she will offer next, many don’t know her story yet. Born in California, she’s a full-blooded Pinay raised by her mom who is from Bacolod and her dad who is from Manila in the Philippines. When she was 10, Anatalia started listening to Celine Dion, and she describes that the singers’ vocals just “blew her mind”.  She considers the five-time Grammy winner as one of her biggest musical influences because she inspired her to try and do the same thing. “[She] was just amazing, and I really just popped the question in my mind, ‘What if I can do that too?’ So I asked my mom if I could perform in my school talent show. My mom was like, ‘What kind of talent do you have?’ So I tried out for the school talent show.” After being a part of that talent show, she says that being on that stage made her feel like it was what she really wanted to do. She then started doing small gigs and performances in the locality. The singer also tells us that her family played a big role on the early years of her career in music. “My grandparents— they really believe in me and they pushed me, and my family, too, so they just inspired me to be this person and be this singer and be this performer.”

Eventually, she tried out for the farewell season of American Idol last year. Being her first national competition, how was that experience for her? “It was a lot of fun. I didn’t get much sleep so it was definitely hard for me especially since I was [only] about 15.” Even if it was challenging in many ways, she considers it an amazing experience as it opened her to new people and friends. ”I definitely met a lot of amazing people. I got close with a lot of the contestants and met a lot of people.” Her stay in the show may have been short-lived, as she was cut after the Top 50, she still believes that her experience of being a part of the show is one of the best. “It was definitely a fun experience being in front of JLo, Keith Urban and Harry, so that was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity as well.” She also feels honored and blessed to have been part of the final season. “I performed at the Dolby Theater. That’s where they have like Oscars. That’s where they have like big-time performances and I’m just glad I got to perform on that stage.”

2-5-16-LOCAL-Idol-Journey-continues-photo-1024x683
Photo. Fox

Now that she’s almost close to the Live Shows of The Voice, she’s thrilled to show more of what she’s got; especially now that she is working with an artist that has inspired her as a singer, too. The teen tells us that her coach is an inspiration to her even when she was young.  She even considers Alicia as the “ultimate symbol of girl power, self love, and confidence”. Did she had it figured out right from the beginning that she was going to choose Alicia? “When I was talking to Alicia, it felt like it was only me and her talking to each other, like it was just us and it just really made me feel comfortable and I felt like I was just going with my guts to choose Alicia. I did have the thought of choosing Alicia before I went on stage just because she’s one of my inspirations when I started singing.” She also admits that it became tough when all four coaches turned for her and gave her very positive comments. “It was definitely a battle picking which coach because they gave their own comments about my performance, and what they could do to me as a coach.”

As the next round fever is in full swing, she hopes to win more hearts through her vocal ability and personality. Definitely, she has “the voice”, but there is something so much more that this girl can offer. “I definitely have to think that I’m a Filipino artist who is petite but I do have a lot of stage presence”. But what makes us really happy is that she’s very proud of who she is and what she’s been through. She also admits that like many kids today, she was once bullied. “I do just wanna make the Philippines proud, not only just by my performance but by who am I as a person and my story and how I grew up, how I was bullied. I didn’t have that much self-confidence. I really just wanna show the Philippines that.” We can tell that she’s pretty much and genuinely proud to be a Filipino, and she is excited to come back to the Philippines soon. “I’ve been to the Philippines when I was 2 years old. I don’t remember much, so I’ve been asking [and] begging my mom to go back and we just haven’t really got the opportunity to but I really do wanna go back.” She also tells us that her mom is teaching her a couple of Filipino words and it is still a learning process for her but she happily shares that she can sing a couple of Filipino songs, even if it can be a challenge to understand them. One is the song ‘Chinito’ by Yeng Constantino.

From ordinary teen to TV search favorite, what has she learned from this whole experience? “No matter how big or small [you are] or where you grew up in or what you’ve been through, you can do it because anything and everything is possible.” It’s definitely not over yet, and there will be more learning to take place. We will be seeing more of this little firecracker in the Knockout Rounds, and if she makes it (we’re keeping our fingers crossed), she’ll be off to the Live Shows. What’s her promise for the next round? “I’m just gonna be giving it my all, and I’ll be doing it for the Philippines, and for myself, and for my family. I just wanna make everybody proud.” She also thanks everyone who’s been supporting her and making her feel that she’s not alone in her journey. “I’m just so grateful and honored to be given this opportunity. I definitely wanna thank you guys.  I would just really hope that you guys keep supporting me and hopefully there’s a time that I get to go to the Philippines and meet everybody soon.”

Team-Alicia-775.jpg
Team Alicia. Photo. Fox

The Knockout Rounds will air on April 3 and 4. While we can’t predict her fate in the next round, we can guarantee that this is the beginning of the countless possibilities ahead of her— whether she makes it or not. For a 16-year-old with priceless humility and a phenomenal talent, it’s a fact that anything really is possible.

 

Follow Anatalia on her social media! Get to know her more through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Like DJ Gabby Ginger on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s