"Opportunity always comes disguised as hard work." It’s a saying that rings true for one El Paso woman. Her opportunity was to audition for NBC's “The Voice,” and sing in Spanish instead of English. But it was her hard work and dedication to her talent that turned her into an overnight celebrity. Only on News Channel 9, you can get to know Elia Esparza.
When you hear the words, “Como la flor,” many around the world are reminded of the superstar Selena. Two weeks ago on “The Voice,” it was resurrected in a performance by a beautiful young woman who judge Miley Cyrus told her, "You did something totally different. People who stay true to who they are, that will get you so far." The performance by El Paso’s own Elia Esparza took “The Voice” and social media by storm.
In town for a quick stop in “The Sun City,” News Channel 9’s Faran Fronczak got to meet Elia, her family, and best friend at her home on the east side. When asked, "Why did you chose to sing in Spanish and why did you pick Selena?" Elia says, "I really wanted to show a different part of me. A lot of people don't know that I'm full Mexican and I can speak Spanish, and it's a huge part of who I am."
But also a big part of this El Pasoan... is singing. Her parents Francisco and Elia remember the moment at a birthday party they realized their 3-year old Elia was a performer, with Francisco saying, "Elia grabbed the microphone, and we said, 'Mi hija, sing! … And she just started going!"
But her parents weren't all that surprised, because it's in their blood. Her mother Elia says, "My dad sings. Francisco sings... his dad sings.”
Elia's parents say growing up she was like any other kid -- trying out everything from music to sports. Her father says, "She tried to do softball, and we said we don't think the sports is working for you, because we're getting tired of going to the games and they don't put you in,” followed by family laughter.
So that's why when Elia was 9, she started taking voice lessons. Elia says, "We moved to El Paso when I was like 12 or 13, and I just got really involved in theatre and choir."
After graduating from Americas High School, Elia was selected to study at the New York Conservatory – where only 150 students are selected each year – to pursue her dream of singing pop music in English... and in Spanish.
Elia’s best friend Alex Garcia says, “Elia's very strong. She's very determined, and in a friend, that's amazing to see somebody that doesn't give up."
After her performance on “The Voice.” the name Elia Esparza blew up social media practically overnight. Elia says, "It's a little weird, but awesome, and overwhelming, but amazing.” It’s made people in the boarderland proud to say Elia was part of their El Paso family.
Elia says while on her quick trip home, she’s had some fun encounters with the community, and was so blessed to gain fans, almost instantly overnight. She says, “I went to Walgreens and the makeup artist was like ‘Oh my gosh! You're Elia... No… Selena!"
While competing on “The Voice,” Elia says she's even more proud to represent her city, along with her culture, as she fights to pursue her childhood dream.
Elia has a message for all those in El Paso: "I would just say to El Paso… thank you so much for all the support and the love, I feel it. I wake up every day and I'm like, ‘This is incredible!’ I'm trying so hard to respond [to you all] so if I don't, I'm sorry, but I see it and I feel it and... thank you."