Yelka Gonzalez-Vargas photo

Yelka Gonzalez-Vargas, a third-year communications major with a minor in music, auditioned for season 22 of "The Voice." (Joshua Jurado / Daily Titan)

A twenty-year-old Cal State Fullerton student recently made her television performance debut on the popular singing competition “The Voice.” 

From San Diego, Yelka Gonzalez-Vargas, a third-year communications major with a minor in music, accomplished her dream by taking the stage and auditioning for one of her favorite music shows.

After submitting a virtual audition last November, she was finally selected to perform a blind audition on the live show. 

Being of Mexican and Peruvian descent heavily influenced the type of music she listened to growing up, Gonzalez-Vargas said. Although Gonzalez-Vargas describes her sound as pop and R&B, her culture inspired her to choose “No Me Queda Mas” by Selena, an American-Tejano singer, for her audition. 

Unfortunately for Gonzalez-Vargas, her performance did not garner a chair turn from the judges.

“I went up there, and I sang my song the best I could in that moment that day,” Gonzalez-Vargas said. “And obviously, it was a little sad when I didn't get chair turns, but like I said, there's really nothing negative that I took from the experience.”

Gonzalez-Vargas describes the highlight of her experience on the popular television show as having the chance to meet and become friends with the other contestants on the show. 

“Obviously, you become close with all the other people that auditioned for the show. So I made a bunch of friends. We all have things in common, which is music, our passion,” Gonzalez-Vargas said. 

Antonio Grajeda, who has been Gonzalez-Vargas’s musical mentor since she was 11, said he believed that she should have advanced in the competition. 

“I wish they allowed her to show more of her pop side. She loves singing Sam Smith and Harry Styles and some of those other artists, and I would have been kind of curious to see how they would have responded to her singing those other tracks, but her vocal performance was great,” Grajeda said.

Gonzalez-Vargas recalls finding her passion for singing at the age of five. By the time she was 11, her parents noticed a growing interest which led to professional lessons from Grajeda. 

“It was more of a general curriculum that I actually created for her specifically,” Grajeda said.  “When I first heard her sing I was so incredibly struck by her tone and her natural ability. She had a great presence.” 

Although it was not the outcome Gonzalez-Vargas hoped for, she is not discouraged from pursuing a career as a full-time artist. Gonzalez-Vargas said the feedback she received allowed her to gain a better understanding of how the music industry works. 

“Song choice is very important and, of course, making music your own,” Gonzalez-Vargas said. “Obviously, being an artist is all about individuality: what makes you stand out. So I definitely took that to heart in what they said. I need to find my sound, find something and make it my own, and obviously, execution is super important.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gonzalez-Vargas said she reflected a lot on the next step in her career and felt confident enough with her ability to audition for “The Voice.”

Recently, Gonzalez-Vargas began learning music production with Grajeda and released her first EP titled “Made of Memories” last year. 

Gonzalez-Vargas said she hopes to create more music this year and become more involved at CSUF.

“People have meditation, and some people have exercise or whatever it is that they do to cope with the stressors of life. Mine's music. Music is a part of me. I wouldn't be me without it.” 

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