Barbara Padilla, a classical crossover soprano, comes from a tight knit family who share a love for classical music. Growing up, her passions remained close to her heart, and she moved on to eventually study music at the Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico). During her studies, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. Padilla traveled to Houston and visited the MD Anderson Cancer Center for a second opinion. During her time there, she was offered a full scholarship to study at The University of Houston’s prestigious Moore’s School of Music. Unfortunately, she could not accept the offer immediately, because she was set to return to Guadalajara, where should would receive aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Undergoing such treatments put Barbara at serious risk for vocal cord damage. Doctors predicted she would never sing again. Miraculously, after a life-saving bone marrow transplant, the quality of Barbara’s voice remained unaffected. She has been in remission ever since.
Padilla proceeded to return to Houston to complete her masters in 2004, and continues to reside there with her loving husband and daughter.
Barbara’s career began to take off when she earned several roles with various opera companies and became a vocal teacher. Her named was up and coming, and she was thirsty for new opportunities. Padilla took a leap of faith and auditioned for the fourth season of a popular television program, “America’s Got Talent.” She quickly gained the hearts of the viewers across the nation due to her enchanting performances. Her vocals encompass multitudes of emotions and beautifully blend opera, instrumental classical harmonies, and contemporary pop.
During the course of the show, Padilla’s performance of “Ave Maria,” was proclaimed, “the greatest single vocal performance we’ve ever heard on America’s Got Talent,” by the respected judge, Piers Morgan. Barbara finished the season as runner-up, and participated in the shows ten-week live concert series.
The list of Barbara Padilla’s talents and accomplishments is endless. She is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian, and French. Her cultural knowledge allows her to be in touch with different sounds, styles and origins across the world. She has a passion for covering renowned artists and adding her own flare into each piece. Her fearless attitude has pushed her to perform as a soloist at countless symphonic events and concerts throughout the United States. Barbara has brought the crowd to tears through her vocal masterpieces in La Boheme, Turandot, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and La Traviata.
Barbara Padilla’s self-titled album is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Hi Barbara, Tell us a little about yourself
Well, first of all, thank you for the interview and the opportunity to talk to your readers. I am a musician, opera singer, mother, wife. I also have a dog and a cat. I live in Houston, TX, but I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico.
How did you get started?
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, especially classical music. My mother had a big collection of operas, oratorios, etc. I associate the happiest moments of my childhood with certain pieces of music. When my brother and I were little, my mom used to take us to the beach once or twice a year. There was this amazing anticipation the whole time accompanied by this beautiful music and I used to sing along with the opera singers. While my mother was tickled by the fact that I could produce operatic sounds, I just thought that everybody did it. I also played piano, danced, acted and painted. I always knew I wanted to be on stage and to be an artist.
Do you have or had any vocal or music classes?
Yes. Since I was little, I studied music, piano, dance, painting, took voice lessons, etc. When the time came to go to college I decided to choose music as a major. I studied music at the school of music at the University of Guadalajara. Later, I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. I graduated with a Master’s degree in music.
Is your family musical?
Yes, they are very musical and extremely supportive. My mother and one of my uncles played the piano. But none of them chose music as a profession. However, thanks to the fact that I grew up hearing them playing, I knew music was my life.
How did you get involved in America’s Got Talent?
After I graduated from the University Of Houston, I got several opera roles with diverse companies. I kept auditioning to earn a position in the opera world. Then, my husband and I decided to adopt our little girl, Elizabeth. So I decided to stay at home for some time and set my career aside. After a couple of years, there was a phone call with my mother that changed my life. She asked me: “Barbara, what are you doing with your career?” I said: “Well, mom, I am teaching voice, I am a mother and a wife…” And she responded: “You speak four languages; you have a family that supports you fully; you have a master’s degree in music, and a God given talent. You, girl, have the wings of an eagle and the mind of a chicken.” Those words, which can only be told by a mother resounded in my ears and made me decide to fly again.
So I started to look for opportunities, auditions and everything I could think of. That search took me to America’s Got Talent. I found out that they would be holding auditions here in Houston, so I decided to give it a try.
How it is to be in-front of big name judges and so many people?
Uff!!! That was something else!!! First of all, when I got to the place of the auditions, I saw like a million people all looking for an opportunity to shine… I was just another one. There was this little voice telling me that what I was after was impossible, but there was this other voice telling me that if I didn’t try, I would never know. So I did it! I took the risk. The moment when the judges told me that I was going to the next round was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. One I’ll hold in my heart forever.
What was your feeling after the words of judge Piers Morgan about your Ave Maria performance?
I don’t think there’s a word in the dictionary to describe my feeling. I did not know what to expect. It was a moment beyond my wildest dreams. I was truly humbled by everything that was going on. I just wanted it to last forever.
Now you are touring with one of the Latin’s biggest legends, Juan Gabriel. How did you get involved in this, and what you can tell us about this amazing experience?
Wow! That’s another feeling that’s hard to describe. Just reading the questions I get teary eyed. I have an amazing manager, Cristina Abaroa. She has a great friendship with maestro Eduardo Magallanes who is one of Juan Gabriel’s most important collaborators. He showed Juan Gabriel some of my videos and other material and very soon he invited me to spend some time in his studio. Juan Gabriel is like that. He’s extremely generous and he loves to develop a friendship and get to know you before establishing a professional relationship. Then, he gave me a new song and at the same time he was inviting me to sing it with him during his concerts! That has been pretty amazing!
Any other exciting news you want to share with us?
Sure, thank you! I am currently promoting my CD, Barbara Padilla that you can find in all the digital stores and Amazon.com. It is a CD that contains 10 pieces that we recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra in the Abbey Road Studios. These pieces are all in the Classical Crossover, or, “popera” style which combines the best of two great worlds: Contemporary pop and Operatic music.
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Mostly classical. But I have to admit that I have a couple of guilty pleasures, in large part because I have a nine-year-old daughter. I do listen to Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and One Direction =)
Any loves other than music?
Oh yeah! I love my family and my friends! I love spending time with them. I love cooking and having company over. I also love to work out… and water… OMG I love water! Every time I can go to the beach I do, and I love swimming!
Any advice for upcoming singers?
The main thing is discipline and preparation. It takes a lot of work and dedication. If you have a God given talent, use it, nourish it and Do not give up.
How do you spend your spare time?
What does that even mean?
3 things you can’t live without?
God, my family and music.
Five years from now you will be….
Still singing… more established in my recording career with a happy healthy family. Skinnier, with no wrinkles and living in a self-cleaning house with a giant shoe closet… (kidding, but… not really)
What do you think of Social Media?
That’s tricky and fascinating. For many reasons, social media is a double-edged sword. It can be used to do a great deal of good. Social media provides access to information as it is happening and forums to post our thoughts and opinions. For us artists, its essential to stay connected with our fans. We can share with them all about our personal and professional life. I have been blessed with wonderful followers who have been incredibly supportive. I feel like we’ve taken this journey together.
Where can we follow you?
Everywhere! My webpage: barbarapadilla.com and as barbarapadiva on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube .
QUICK QUESTIONS “FAVES”
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Best book: Many, among others I count the series Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Razinger, Reasons to believe by Scott Hahn, and The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
Restaurant: The Melting Pot… Although they don’t serve Mexican food…
Movie: Little Boy
Song: Songs! Several opera arias that I have the blessing to sing like “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana” from La Wally, and “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca and some others that make me feel like I am flying.
Tv Show: That’s a tough one because I watch almost no TV. I enjoyed “Breaking Bad,” “Leverage,” and “Burn Notice.” Lately, I find “How To Get Away With Murder” very interesting.
Holiday Destination: Anywhere with a good site to scuba dive and/or swim… Oh, and with a nice, quiet hotel room.