Bentley: Fresno singer Gabi Ramirez auditions for 'Voice'

The Fresno BeeMarch 11, 2014 

Roseann and Liz Van Nest, a mother-and-daughter team from Hanford were contestants on “Wheel of Fortune” on March 11.


You can add the name Gabi Ramirez to the list of locals who have moved to Los Angeles to find fame and fortune.

The 25-year-old's efforts came up a little short Monday night during the round of blind auditions for the NBC singing competition "The Voice."

It wasn't a total loss. The Roosevelt High and Fresno Pacific grad got to tell his story of going from playing soccer to singing. He also got advice from the judges, which he's using to help increase his chances of launching a music career.

In the background segment before Ramirez went in front of the judges — Blake Shelton, Usher, Shakira and Adam Levine — the young singer talked about the big risk he took moving to Pasadena. The son of Jamie Ramirez, head coach of Fresno Pacific's men's soccer team, grew up under the expectations that he would become a soccer star.

Ramirez says he was disappointed when he didn't get picked by one of the judges because he wanted to prove to his family — and himself — that he could make it to the next level. Now, he's looking at the experience in a different way.

"It's a motivator to work harder. The judges talked to me more than what they showed, but it was just more about picking that moments and having conviction. If these four humongous artists are going to give me that feedback then I'm going to take it for what it is," Ramirez says.

He discovered singing while in college. Ramirez played soccer for his father for three years. Jamie Ramirez saw glimpses of a future entertainer in his son when he played in the Marimba Band at Roosevelt High School and won the school talent contest his senior year.

"It took a lot of courage for him to sit his mother and me down to tell us what he wanted to do. I wasn't disappointed that he wanted to trying singing. I was just more wanting to listen to his plan of how he was going to do it," Jamie Ramirez says.

Ramirez's performance of Ed Sheeran's "The A Team" failed to impress any of the judges. Shakira said that his voice is beautiful, but it lacked the dynamics needed to win the show. Levine added, "You have to live these moments like they're your last."

Ramirez, a Fresno native, selected that song because of all the positive feedback he got when performing it on the street. He's still convinced it was a good song selection, but the slight nervousness he felt was enough to keep him from advancing.

Monday's tryout was the second time Ramirez was at a blind audition for "The Voice." He also went in the summer for the fall 2013 edition of the show, but he never made it on stage because the four judges filled their teams before he got his chance to sing. His father was at that tryout but missed the one that aired Monday because it was taped while he was on the road with the college soccer team.

Ramirez has gone back to splitting his time between working at Pasadena's Sur La Table and singing on the street to make additional money. He's also landed a weekly singing job at the Tavern on Brand in Glendale, where he performs at 10 p.m. Thursdays.

Big winner

The Hanford mother-and-daughter team of Roseann and Liz Van Nest were big winners on Tuesday's edition of the syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune." They were able to spell their way to a prize of $77,898 in cash and prizes — including a trip to Jamaica.

The family is a huge fan of "Wheel of Fortune." The show was playing in the delivery room when Liz, a recent University of California, Irvine, graduate, was born 22 years ago.

"Wheel of Fortune" airs at 7:30 p.m. weekdays on KFSN (Channel 30.1). Roseann and Liz applied to be a contestant online at

Other news

Special guest: Former Fresno State athlete Dot-Marie Jones takes time away from her work on "Glee" for a guest starring role on an episode of "Baby Daddy," which will air at 8:30 p.m. March 26 on ABC Family.

In "An Affair Not To Remember," part of the story unfolds in a spa where Jones plays a very intimidating masseuse. Anyone who has shaken hands with the actress knows that she could crush any muscle in your back with ease.

No fairy-tale ending: Fresno's Christopher Gorham had a guest starring role in Sunday's episode of "Once Upon a Time." It looked like he was going to be a new love interest for the character played by Jennifer Morrison, but by the end of the show it's revealed he's just the human version of one of the flying monkeys controlled by the wicked witch that's arrived to make life miserable for the residents of Storybrook.

Grade A: The syndicated talk show "LIVE with Kelly and Michael," seen locally on KFSN (Channel 30.1), is looking for nominations for the fifth annual "Top Teacher Week." Each day during the week of May 12-16, teachers from across the country will be honored for making their schools better and for their service and commitment to their students and communities.

You have until April 21 to submit a nomination at


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.

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