Meet La Banda’s Twelve Finalists – Live Broadcast Stage Begins This Sunday, November 1st

"Meet La Banda’s Twelve Finalists – Live Broadcast Stage Begins This Sunday, November 1st"
Zabdiel de Jes̼sР17, from Puerto Rico


Zabdiel’s love of music started at an early age when he learned to play the guitar from his father, a professional guitarist. He later teamed up with his brother, also a guitarist, to play in church where he grew to love Gospel music. His love for dance led him to form a hip-hop and salsa group in middle school, and eventually study ballet at La Escuela de Bellas Artes de Bayamón, where he is currently in his final year.


Christopher Vélez- 19, Ecuadorian from New Jersey


Born in the United States, Christopher returned from Ecuador less than a year ago in hopes of a better future and lives alone in Hightstown, NJ. He works hard shining shoes and saving all the money he can so he can send some to his mother to help her dream of becoming a lawyer come true. His “American Dream” is to be part of La Banda and always wears a gold medallion he received from his grandmother as good luck.


Joshua Greaux– 17, from Puerto Rico


Used to fierce competition as the son of an Olympic athlete, Joshua has run charity marathons and trains daily, but his first love is for music. He plays guitar, write songs, makes music, and has sung in a choir. When he sat down with his father to explain that music, like sports, is a discipline one must dedicate one’s body and soul to, his father gave him his full support. His mother, with whom he lives, also supports his dreams and works two jobs in order to provide Joshua a good education. He prefers ballads and his favorite song is from the group Sin Bandera titled “Ves.”


Joel Pimentel– 16, from Los Angeles


Although he lives with his parents and two brothers, it was his Grandfather Luis who first noticed his musical talent and encouraged him to develop it by teaching Joel to sing. When his Grandfather died last January, Joel sang the song “100 Ovejas” at his funeral in his honor. Joel studies Drama at Hesperia High School in Los Angeles and takes acting very seriously as he feels it helps him better interpret his songs.


Sebastián Rivera-  15, from Puerto Rico


Sebastián lives with his parents and three siblings and is a big fan of the group One Direction. He has grown up and gone to school with the same group of friends and loves to sing harmony, looking for any and all occasions to perform, whether with friends or in front of strangers, with all his heart. He also plays the Ukulele.


Aaron Bodden- 17, American of Honduran and Dominican parents from Miami


Born and raised in a poor and violent neighborhood of Miami, Aaron now lives with his mother, two siblings and Grandmother in Homestead, Florida. His passion for Rap music and urban rhythms has made him popular in the neighborhood and at school where he is known for his singing and producing music for himself and others on his computer at home.  He loves “remixes” and hip-hop and reggaeton songs, and fights to succeed in the name of all those from poor neighborhoods who have died from violence.
Erick Brian Colón– 14, Cuban from Tampa


Born in Cuba, Erick moved to the United States when his father, who was already living here, sent for him, his mother and sister. Since he was 5 years old, Erick has been singing with a microphone in his hand, first at parties and school activities, then later at Karaokes. He loves to play soccer, dance at parties, has many friends at school, and is the only one in his family who wants a career in music.


Jaime Cruz– 14, from Puerto Rico


Jaime, who lives with his mother and younger sister, loves to dance and sing with passion so that he can disconnect from anything negative. Only 14 years old, Jaime knows what it means for such a young person to participate and possibly win a place in La Banda, but does so knowing how proud it would make his family.


Johann Vera– 19, Ecuadorian from Miami


Johann, who lives with his parents and little sister, is an actor, singer and dancer who loves hip-hop. He enjoys swimming, playing tennis, and has studied Tae Kwan Do but from him, everything revolves around furthering his artistic career. He records “covers” and posts them on Youtube, and his sister is his biggest fan. He wants to show his parents that he can make it as a professional singer.


Yoandri Cabrera– 16, Cuban-American from Miami


Yoandri, who lives at home with his mother, started singing when he was 7 years old, inspired by his mother who also sang as a little girl. His favorite artists are Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Marc Anthony, and One Direction. He says finding God helped him more than anything in the world to always have a positive outlook.


Kevin González– 19,  Mexican-Salvadoran from Arizona


Kevin lives with his parents and is the youngest of four brothers. His oldest brother, who is a rapper, is his biggest influence. He loves to play the piano and the ukulele, but feels family is the most important thing and that they give him the confidence he needs to go on singing. His dream is to one day help young people and make a positive impression on their lives.


Richard Camacho– 18, Dominican from NH


Coming from a musical family, Richard’s father had been a musician in his youth and his mother a dancer. So he began his musical career at the age of only 4 years old when his father, who was a musician and worked as a TV cameraman in the Dominican Republic, took him to an audition. From then on he dedicated his life to song and dance.



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Episode Seven Highlights



As the last episode in the middle rounds opens, the pressure is on for the 15 boys who are left in the competition. Who will make it to the live rounds?  The challenge in this episode is for the boys to perform as soloists in front of the judges and in front of a live audience of fans. The fans and judges judge each boy individually and select 12 boys to move on to the live rounds!


Each live performance is conducted in a small theater, where even minor mistakes are amplified. Before going on stage, the boys are coached individually by one of the superstar judges. The judges give them feedback and help the boys put forth their best performance. After 5 boys sing, they are called back on stage and the one with the most votes from the fans will automatically pass to the live rounds. The other four boys go home without knowing their fate in the competition. The fans save 3 boys in total.


After the acoustic performances are over, the 12 remaining contestants go home to await their results. The judges select 9 contestants to move on in the competition. The judges then meet with each remaining contestant individually to deliver the news in person- will they move on in the competition or be eliminated? Each meeting with the contestants is a memorable event- in some cases, the judges visit the contestant’s homes and meet their families. In one case, the contestant learns his fate in the middle of a concert and in front of thousands of people.


First Soloist: Christopher Velez

Song: I believe in You by Reik


Christopher is thankful for the opportunity to be in La Banda and says what an amazing opportunity it has been. He never imagined getting this far in the competition. During rehearsals, Christopher is coached by Laura Pausini who after his performance on stage, says what a good person he is and comments on how well he sings.


Second Soloist: Johann Vera

Song: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran


Johann shares that he has worked hard to get here and that he is finally seeing the results of his perseverance. During rehearsals Laura notes that he sings well, has good control over the stage, knows what he is doing and is ready.


Third Soloist: Aaron Bodden

Song: Give me everything by Pitbull


Aaron is excited for the judges and fans to see him doing something new, singing rather than rapping, and is very proud of what he has accomplished. During rehearsals, Ricky Martin notes that you never know what to expect from Aaron because he is very disciplined and very focused. He says to Aaron “I need for you to show off… without mercy… I want blood.” After his performance, Alejandro Sanz notes that he has a very particular energy but that he had never heard him really sing. Laura says that he has something special even though he wouldn’t be the lead voice.


Soloist 4: Jose Antonio Monroig

Song: A Dios Le Pido by Juanes


Jose Antonio wants to demonstrate that he is a different type of artist. He is charismatic, enjoys what he sings and is unsure what the judges and the fans will think but he will give his performance his all to make it to the live rounds.  During his rehearsal, Alejandro Sanz notes that he is out of tune and tells him to fix it. He also advises him to keep singing and to smile if he forgets the lyrics on stage. Separately, Sanz says that if he performs on stage like he did during rehearsals, he will likely not go on. During his performance on stage, Jose Antonio was out of tune and forgets the lyrics to the song. Ricky Martin remarks to the other judges that he broke his heart.


Soloist Five: Yoandri Cabrera

Song: Titanium (in Spanish) by David Guetta