After months of staying in the UK chasing her dreams, 17-year-old Maria Laroco, who impressed the judges of The X Factor UK during the live auditions for the show’s 15th season, is back in town.
Fresh from the airport, the budding superstar shared some of her biggest moments at a press event held recently at the Brickyard, Quezon City, where she also gave a special homecoming performance of her winning songs.
In an exclusive interview with Manila Standard, the teen singer said her journey may have ended by not being able to advance in the next round of competition in the popular reality singing show but that doesn’t stop her from making solid efforts to advance her career in music.
“I felt sad that I wasn’t able to go to California to perform live in front of Simon Cowell and his guests. It’s a big thing to be there but it’s nerve-wracking as well because I didn’t know what they’re reactions would be. It’s a risk and I took,” she said.
Maria could not get a visa to come to travel to the US so she was forced to perform via video link in front of 50 of the biggest names in the music industry. She belted out a fantastic rendition of “California Dreamin’,” wowing Simon and guest judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Ryan Seacrest. Unfortunately, Maria did not get through.
“My entire experience has been overwhelming,” Maria shared. “I’ve always wanted to sing at the X Factor UK. It’s my biggest dream, and being able to join the contest is already a huge achievement for me. I’m very happy to be given a chance to perform in front of the British audience, and especially Simon Cowell.”
The 17-year-old first made headlines when she impressed all four judges and the audience at the Wembley Stadium with her stunning rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” during the live auditions.
“I still couldn’t believe that I got four yeses from the judges. It was very surreal. I never expected to get a standing ovation from these really big people,” the petite singer said about her audition.
Maria won a spot in the Six Chair Challenge with Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night” that left international star maker Cowell wide-eyed with excitement.
She almost lost her seat to another contestant but was called back amidst popular demand from the crowd. The teen singer had to fight for her place once again when Cowell asked her to do a sing-off with another contender. It was a tough moment, but she managed to pull through by singing her audition piece, “Purple Rain.”
“That, vocally, was just like a different class,” The X Factor UK judge and One Direction member Louis Tomlinson couldn’t help but exclaim afterward. Cowell was convinced and decided to keep her among the final six contenders under the “Girls” category.
The X Factor UK contestant shared how proud she was to be one of the many Filipino participants who won hearts from fans both in the UK and around the globe: “It feels incredible to represent our country,” Laroco said. “This contest really gave me an opportunity to raise our flag and show how talented Filipinos are.”
She also expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all her supporters at the X Factor UK.
“I wouldn’t make it this far without everyone who cheered for me. Thank you so much for believing in me,” the young talent said.
“I’ve learned a lot from the competition, and I’ll continue to work hard to make my dreams come true. Please continue to support me. I promise to have more in store for all of you in the future,” she added.
Citing Yeng Constantino, Sarah Geronimo, Morissette Amon, Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Celine Dion as her idols in music, Maria believes that one day, she would be able to realize her dreams and make it big like the artists she looks up to. In fact, she’s already preparing for some big surprises for her fans.
“I’m crossing my fingers, but yeah, there’s something big coming in 2019 and I can’t wait to share it with the people who have been very supportive of me,” she said.
The X Factor UK S15 continues every Sunday and Monday, 7:55 p.m. same day as the UK, first and exclusive on Blue Ant Entertainment, available on SKYcable channels 53 (SD) and 196 (HD), SKYdirect channel 35, Destiny Cable channel 53, and Cablelink channels 37 (SD) and 313 (HD).
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