SATURDAY, 07 APRIL 2012 00:00
When Filipino-American Cheesa Laureta moved six years ago from Hawaii to LA to follow her dream and be a singer, she never imagined she would make it this far—competing with the strongest vocalists from across America and making it to the final rounds of The Voice.
Belonging to Team Cee Lo Green, Cheesa initially thought she wouldn’t even make it in the first round. In that blind audition round, Cheesa sang Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy.
In a blog on the NBC The Voice website, Cheese admitted, “I totally choked in the beginning because I missed my cue. My initial thought was “Cheesa you baffoon! Now the coaches aren’t going to turn for you. All you can do now is kill it!” For the remainder of the song when I realized that no one had turned around, I automatically assumed that I was done for. Then 5 seconds before singing that last note, Cee Lo turns around!!! I didn’t even realize it ‘til I was done that he had turned around for me.”
Cee Lo Green turned his chair around just before Cheesa finished the song, putting her on his “Red Zone” team.
Cheesa revealed that she really wanted to be on Green’s team and says she feels grateful and blessed to be given the opportunity to work with him, whom she views as an amazing talent.
Aside from having been blessed with a powerful voice, Cheesa also has been gifted with a lot of faith. Tattooed on her left wrist is, “II Cor 5:7” - the bible verse that says, “For we walk by faith not by sight.” She also has another tattoo of “Believe” on her left rib.
“I just prayed for the best,” she said and her prayers were answered.
How ‘The Voice’ works
The show’s innovative format features three stages of competition: the blind audition, a battle phase, and finally, the live performance shows.
During the blind auditions, the decisions from the musician coaches are based solely on voice and not on looks. The coaches hear the artists perform, but they don’t get to see the artist - thanks to rotating chairs. If a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, he/she pushes a button to select the artist for his/her team. At this point, the coach’s chair will swivel so that he/she can face the artist he/she has selected.
Once the teams are set, the battle is on. Coaches will dedicate themselves to developing their singers, giving them advice and sharing the secrets of their success. During the battle rounds, the coaches will pit two of their own team members against each other to sing the same song together in front of a studio audience.
After the vocal face-off, the coach must choose which of his/her singers will advance.
At the end of the battle episodes, only the strongest members of each coach’s roster remain and proceed to the live stage shows.
In this final performance phase of the competition, the top artists from each team will compete against each other during a live broadcast. The television audience will vote to save their favorite talent, leaving the coach to decide live who they want to save and who will not move on. In the end, each coach will have one star artist left ready to compete against the other teams’ finalists to be named The Voice. The winner will receive the grand prize of a recording contract.
Victorious battle round
With the help of Green and legendary singer/songwriter Babyface, Cheesa was able to come out victorious after her duet battle with Angie Johnson.
Cheesa performed Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart with Angie Johnson and Cee Lo picked her as the winner of the round.
“Battles are nerve-wracking!” Laureta said. “You’re in a team and have already built friendships with people and to think you have to compete and battle against your teammate is difficult.”
Cheesa was born and raised in Hawaii. Her dreams of a musical career began when she was four. Growing up in Hawaii she performed in a duet with her brother, singer/musician Troy Laureta, as A2C. Their final performance in Hawaii was in William Daquioag’s Young Pinoys: Showcase of Stars show at the Pearl City Cultural Center in August, 2006.
Then, they moved to Los Angeles.
“It was one of the biggest decisions that I’ve ever made in my life. My dad supported (our decision) but he didn’t really want us to go to the path of becoming a musician because it wasn’t a stable type of career, but it was what we wanted and we moved to LA,” said Cheesa.
She and Troy had auditioned for American Idol but weren’t selected. They made some recordings. They then both went out for The Voice last year but didn’t make it. This year, Troy pushed Cheesa to try again and she finally made it to the blind auditions.
Their father, Joseph, used to be a vocalist and guitarist back in Manila, and competed in local competitions.
Troy is a singer as well, and a musical director/keyboardist for artists such as Charice, Melanie Fiona and has worked with David Foster.
Talking about her success at The Voice, Cheesa says, “It took five years to get to this point. It’s been a struggle. It’s hard. It’s hard moving from Hawaii where a little bit of people know you (and) coming to LA where nobody knows you and you have to start all over (but) you work through it.” She expressed great appreciation and love for her parents who have sacrificed in order to help their children’s dreams come true.
Cheesa is now preparing for the third stage of the competition (live rounds) of The Voice, which began April 2 on NBC. Team Cee Lo Green will compete with the other teams of celebrity musician coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
Cheesa will compete in the live rounds next week, April 9. America will vote to decide who moves on to the finals. During the show’s finale, four artists will perform for America’s votes and one will be crowned The Voice.
Proudly Filipino, Cheesa is counting on Hawaii and Fil-Ams elsewhere in America to support her.
Her brother Troy told Asian Journal, “Cheesa is so in love with Filipino culture. She can understand Tagalog and Cebuano, and she eats everything. She loves pinakbet, karekare and bagoong! She is very proud to be Filipino, and always told me that when she makes it, she would like break the barriers that hinder Filipinos from breaking into mainstream US. She wants to be a bridge from the Philippines to the States.”
(LA Weekend April 7-10, 2012 Sec B pg.1)