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Winner of Idol Kids takes us backstage in the world’s biggest singing competition franchise

Pride filled me as I understood the magnitude of the moment. With nostalgia, I remembered everything that happened to get to that point. It was as if hundreds of images went through my mind in a second. I thought of my singing classes, times I performed on stage in Honduras, all my practice, and the support of my parents and family. It was all worth it.

  • 11 months ago
  • April 9, 2023
9 min read
16-year-old Honduran Carla Zaldívar won Idol Kids in Spain in 2022 after receiving a golden ticket 16-year-old Honduran Carla Zaldívar won Idol Kids in Spain in 2022 after receiving a golden ticket | Photo courtesy of Telecinco España
Interview Subject
Carla Zaldívar is a 16-year-old Honduran girl who currently lives in Barcelona, Spain with her parents. She has studied music and singing since she was three and a half years old. In Honduras, she participated in various events including the Telethon. In 2022 she participated in the second edition of Idol Kids Spain where she won first place. Her parents Carlos Zaldívar and Wendy de Zaldívar have been her support since she was very young, motivating her to develop her aptitude in music. In the final of Idol Kids, Carla received an invitation letter to be cast in the musical Los boys del choir.
Background Information
Idol Kids is a Spanish talent contest produced by Fremantle and broadcast on Telecinco since September 7, 2020. The program, which is the first adaptation in Spain of an Idols franchise, is presented by Jesús Vázquez. Unlike other adaptations of the Idols franchise throughout the world, where the operation of the original format is replicated, Idol Kids has its own mechanics, created and adapted exclusively for the Spanish market. In this variation of the popular contest, which has been adapted in nearly 100 countries to date, the objective is to find the new child music idol among dozens of young singers whose ages are between seven and 15 years old. The two seasons broadcast in Spain have had three different phases during the competition.

BARCELONA, Spain ꟷ Eleven fellow competitors and I stepped onto the stage and the curtain opened. The audience and judges looked at us. The cameras focused their lenses on our faces. We all held hands, nervously waiting for the host Jesús Vásquez to announce the winner.

I felt like an eternity passed when Jesús approached his microphone and said, “The winner of Idol Kids season two is…” Then he stayed quiet, looking at the audience. My nervousness grew as the cameramen captured the faces of every contestant, our intertwined hands, and the full image of all of us on stage.

When I least expected it, as I gazed out in admiration at the auditorium, I heard Jesús say, “The winner is Carla Zaldivar!” I immediately felt disbelief, unable to process what was happening. My heart raced. As the excitement of knowing I won became real, it made me cry.

Applying to be on Idol Kids

My family and I moved from Honduras to Spain and after two weeks, I began adapting to my new life. I felt certain of one thing at that time – I wanted to keep doing what I loved, singing. One day, my parents and grandmother saw an advertisement on television. It featured a call for children to participate in one of the most important international singing competitions for young people: Idol Kids. [A part of the Idols franchise, Idol Kids began airing in Spain in 2020.]

I did not hesitate, thinking only of being on stage again. First, I needed to send a video of myself singing, so my father and I began looking for my song. We wanted to choose something well-known and difficult to showcase my voice and technical versatility. The day we recorded I felt cold and wore a sweater. I prepared to sing I have nothing by Whitney Houston in Spanish.

Even though my dad does not sing, he has a good ear and always helps me interpret the song better. The first time we recorded he said, “No, in this part, you have to lower the note more,” or, “You were out of tune here.” We sent in the second recording. As selection of contestants began, the producers asked us to record several more songs edited to a two-minute video.

Finally, one day, my dad told me, “Carla, I received an email. You passed the test, now you have to go to a casting.” In disbelief, I felt my body tremble with nerves.

Attending casting in Barcelona

They assigned me the casting number 1,116. At the hotel in Barcelona, I saw a large amount of children lining up. While we waited, they called participants in turns. I could hear the contestants singing, and my hands began to shake. I felt a lump in my throat and anxiousness in my body.

Listening to the competitors, I could hear the high level of their performances and felt even more nervous. Afraid I might forget the lyrics; I practiced over and over. When they called my name, my grandmother came with me. She never saw me on stage before. When she left Honduras for Spain, I was very young. Onstage, I felt happy since I had been unable to sing in front of an audience for a long time. Taking the microphone and showing my talent felt satisfying and I knew, whatever happened, I would always have this memory.

The judges selected a song from the previous video I sent and asked me to sing I have nothing. During my performance, my grandmother became so emotional she trembled. When I finished, members of the evaluation panel asked her why she reacted that way. She told them it was the first time she ever heard me sing in person.

Afterwards, the judges asked me to sing another song – an interpretation of All by myself by Celine Dion. While I sang, I made a mistake in one part, but continued. I felt defeated and disappointed. In my mind, I thought, “I didn’t make it.” After the audition they told me if I got selected, they would contact me to go to the rankings in Madrid. I went to my parents and said, “I made a mistake, I don’t think they’ll contact me.”

Gearing up for the finals in Madrid

Two weeks passed and I felt sad, but after three weeks my dad came into my room with the phone. “You got in,” he said, “You are going to Madrid!” My face lit up, and I felt immense joy, but at the same time, I tried not to give it too much weight. It’s just another casting, I thought.

When my dad hung up the phone, he explained that in Madrid, there would be rankings. This meant I would be in front of the judges of Idol Kids with an audience being televised. I could barely believe it. Adrenaline coursed through my body.

We arrived in Madrid one day before the recording and went to the hotel. I felt calm at first, but when I heard how the other participants were already practicing, my nerves emerged. The next morning, I got up and got ready. It felt strange and unfamiliar, seeing so many people working behind the scenes. Someone made sure all the kids looked good, that our shirts were ironed, and our hair was well combed.

They took me to a studio where they recorded the parts that appear on television before the presentation of each contestant – like a staging area. They filmed me practicing with the singing teacher. I talked with Abril, one of the girls who made it to the finals with me. I also met Iveth and our parents visited with each other. Everything felt comfortable.

As the only contestant from outside of Spain, we talked about Spanish accents, and they asked how I was adjusting. The staff told us how to position ourselves onstage and where to look when receiving our scores. They explained, only three spots remained and three golden tickets. That meant only six of the remaining 12 applicants would move forward.  

Getting the golden ticket

In my mind, I thought, whoever sings first will not make it unless they get a golden ticket. I expected to be called in the middle or at the end. Then they called me first. I felt paralyzed for a few minutes, but I had no choice, so I walked out. Standing in the middle of the stage, I felt an inexplicable sensation. It remained the biggest and most professional stage I ever stood on. The vivid colors and bright lights made me feel outside of myself. It felt like a movie.

Pride filled me as I understood the magnitude of the moment. With nostalgia, I remembered everything that happened to get to that point. It was as if hundreds of images went through my mind in a second. I thought of my singing classes, times I performed on stage in Honduras, all my practice, and the support of my parents and family. It was all worth it.

I enjoyed every second of the song, and when it finished, the audience rose to their feet and the judges clapped. Then, the judge Ana Mena gave me her golden ticket and came up on stage. I went from being nervous to surprised. The pass automatically put me in the semifinals, where I performed the most difficult song of my life, And I am telling you I’m not going by Jennifer Hudson.

During rehearsals, every time I sang the song it left me breathless, but I worked hard. I rehearsed tirelessly until I reached my peak performance. Back on stage, I overcame my fear of making mistakes. The audience and the judges liked my performance, and I moved through the to the finals.

Crowned the winner of Idol Kids Spain

With a week and a half to prepare my song for the finals, I struggled with song choice. I already sang the ones I deemed most difficult. My parents and I began to look for the ideal piece when my mom said, “Listen to this. It’s a pretty song.” She played It was feeling good by Nina Simone.

My lifelong singing instructor Glenda Vega said if I made it to the finals, she would come from the United States to Spain to see me. She arrived and helped prepare me, encouraging me to do my best. I never sang the song before and learned it from scratch. Creating my interpretation, I practiced all afternoon.

On the day of the final competition, I felt calm. A band accompanied me on stage. Wearing a long train on my dress, I avoided moving my feet too much and falling. Instead, I moved my back and hands to bring the performance to life. I thought about the moment in front of me. This would be my last time on the Idol Kids stage and I had to give it my all.

The microphone trembled in my hands as I took great caution not to step on the tail of my dress or go out of tune. I moved my hands to the rhythm of the chords and revealed the power of my voice like never before. I wanted to win.

After all the contestants performed, we stood together holding hands, awaiting the announcement of the winner. When the host said my name, my face revealed my surprise. Tears of emotion flowed down my face as my fellow contestants hugged me. It was an unforgettable moment.

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Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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