Rick Bentley

Fresno 12-year-old sings his way to top 15 of ‘La Voz Kids’

Issac Torres is representing Fresno in the fourth season of “La Voz Kids.”
Issac Torres is representing Fresno in the fourth season of “La Voz Kids.” Telemundo

Isaac Torres arrives at the local Telemundo studio (KNSO, Channel 51.1) wearing a fishing hat and a huge smile. He has a good reason to look like a Cheshire Cat: The 12-year-old Fresno native has advanced to the top 15 of the music competition series “La Voz Kids” (“The Voice Kids”).

The music competition series is designed exactly like NBC’s “The Voice.” A panel of three judges – in this case, Pedro Fernández, Natalia Jiménez and Daddy Yankee – listen with their backs turned to the young singers. Singers are selected based on the strength of their voice alone. Eventually, one will be selected by the viewing audience as the winner and receive a recording contract with Universal Music, plus $50,000. The winner’s family gets a 2016 Nissan Rogue.

Isaac’s journey started in Fresno.

“My brother told me that there were going to be tryouts. But, that was when there was all the ash in the air and I had gotten sick. So I wasn’t going to go,” Isaac says.

He was at a cross-country meet the day of the audition. His brother showed up and said that they were going to the tryouts. So without any rehearsals, Isaac spent most of the day singing for the team looking for singers. He was one of 5,000 kids who auditioned. It was his father, Ramon Torres, who got the telephone call saying that Isaac was one of the 100 singers selected to go in front of the television cameras and the judges in Orlando.

The combination of his strong singing voice and his confidence have kept Isaac in the competition. Isaac’s pop/mariachi performance of “Darte un Beso” was so impressive that all three judges wanted him for their team.

Having the judges turn around didn’t affect Isaac’s performance. He says that when he gets on stage, he transforms himself so that nothing matters but the music. He doesn’t have any pre-performance rituals, but he always wears his grandfather’s medallion and carries a set of inspirational cards in his pocket.

In a strategic move, Isaac didn’t pick Fernandez, whose musical style is the closest of the three judges to what Isaac likes to sing. He opted to go with Jiménez, who is more of a pop singer.

“I thought if I would go with Pedro all of the mariachi singers would be going with him,” Isaaac says. “I didn’t think many mariachi singers would go with Natalia.”

Isaac is heading back to the Orlando studios where the series is filmed and will stay in Florida until a winner of the fourth season of “La Voz Kids” is chosen. If Isaac is to win, he will need a lot of support from fans in the next few weeks voting via phone calls and text messages. The show airs 8 p.m. Sundays on KNSO.

Isaac is looking to make history. After all three judges had made their plea for Isaac to be on their team, he had a question for them. He wanted to know which judge would do the best to help him be the first Mexican American to win the competition. In the first three seasons, the winning singers were Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican.

There’s no doubt in Isaac’s mind that he’s going to win. As for where that confidence comes from, his mother, Margarita Torres, has no guess other than he is the youngest of four sons. Isaac has so much confidence that when he was 4, he asked the band playing at a huge family party in Los Angeles if he could sing a song with them.

“They said I could. They said a friend was going to come up and sing. My parents say they just saw this little person going up to the stage. They put me up on a table and I sang,” Isaac says.

And he’s never stopped. Even at Hamilton Elementary, where Isaac has a 4.0 GPA, he is part of the school choir. He had a singing coach for a short time, but that was too expensive for the family.

The family’s expenses to travel to Orlando are paid by “La Voz Kids.”

There’s only one musical challenge that could be tough for Isaac. After the initial audition round, competitors are given the songs to perform by the production team. In the past, some of the singers have had to perform in English. Although Isaac speaks perfect English and Spanish, he hasn’t sung a lot in English.

“But, if they ask me to do it, I will,” he says. “If I don’t, I go home.”

TV Honors

Fresno television stations walked away with seven awards at the 45th annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards held Saturday, June 4. Local television stations had picked up 24 nominations for outstanding achievement in television, including a sweep of the newscast-evening-medium markets category.

The Fresno television market is in the San Francisco/Northern California region of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, composed of media companies and individuals from Visalia to the Oregon border along with Hawaii and Reno. There were a record 757 English and 179 Spanish entries.

English and Spanish language entries were judged and scored separately.

Here are the winners:

▪ Newscast-Evening-Medium Markets ABC30 “Action News Live at Five, “ Michael Carr, news director; Warren Armstrong, anchor; Gene Haagenson, Corin Hoggard, Sontaya Rose, Sara Sandrik, reporters; Dennis Silvas, photojournalist; Joseph Shoults, editor; Cristina Moreno Paez, assignment editor.

“CBS 47 Eyewitness News at 5, “ Chad McCollum, news director; Eric Luttrell, executive producer; Angela Greenwood, Joey Horta, Patrick Nelson, Megan Rupe, reporters; George Garnica, Kevin Mahan, photographers.

▪ Photographer-Program: “Valley Children’s Hospital – Futures Worth Fighting For, “ ABC30/Daniel Brian Advertising, John Tarver, director of photography.

▪ Newscast-Daytime-Medium Markets: Fox 26 “KMPH Midday News, “ Mike Wandzell, producer; Kim Stephens, anchor; Erik Rosales, reporter; Candice Funk, Heather Nelson, editors; Sheldon Gajarian, assignment editor.

Spanish language:

▪ Newscast-Evening-Medium Markets: KFTV Univision 21 “Noticias 21 a las 6, “ Sandy Sirias, news director; Vladimir Araya, producer; Reina Cardenas, David Ibarra, anchors; Raul Delgado, sports anchor; Tayhana Lashelle Garcia, Carolina Rico, reporters; Fatima Navarrete, Abraham Peña, video journalists; Jose Munzo, Jaime Sandoval, photographers; Raul Lima, technical director.

▪ Promotion-Program-Single Spot: KFTV KNSO Telemundo 51 “Dia de Muertos Promos,” Jorge Santacruz, producer.

▪ Promotion-Campaign: “Telemundo 51 Fresno Station ID, “ Santacruz, producer.

More news

Finale: The second season finale of “Outlander,” created by Chowchilla’s Ron Moore, will air at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 9. It will be a 90-minute episode.

This goes along with the news that Starz has ordered a third and fourth season of “Outlander.”

Big search: ABC Talent and Casting has launched its fourth annual “ABC Discovers: Digital Talent Competition.” It will run through Friday, June 17. The competition looks to discover and champion actors who may not have had the opportunity to be seen yet by casting executives.

Winners will get a one-year, $25,000 talent deal with ABC.

Anyone 18 and older is encouraged to go to ABCDiscovers.com to enter the contest. The top 10 finalists and their entries will be posted Friday, July 22. The 2016 winner will be announced Tuesday, July 26.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

La Voz Kids

  • 8 p.m. Sundays on Telemundo, KNSO, Channel 51.1