Last night's "Buscando una Estrellita para Jesús 2009" had its "Susan Boyle" moment too, at least for me. It came in the second half of the program when Eric Terán from Our Lady of Good Counsel parish came onto the stage.
I had already not been feeling especially hopeful about his song selection. He had chosen "Estoy pensando en Dios" -- an overworked charismatic hymn of which I have heard entirely too many boring, dragging renditions over the years, so I was not particularly optimistic that a teenage boy with no professional singing experience could do anything with it. And the kid comes on stage looking more like someone who escaped from an advanced placement computer science program than like a budding Catholic charismatic singing star.
But when Eric got into the song, he breathed new life into it. He had a stage presence that blew the other contestants out of the water and an absolutely fearless rapport with the audience that many of the adults who participate in "Buscando una Estrella" (the grown up version of the contest) would do well to imitate...if they can. He had us all singing along in short order and every eye in the room was on him. Needless to say, Eric won first prize in the teenage category.
I also agreed that Joanna Lovo from Our Lady Queen of Peace earned her 2nd place in that category, no question. She reprised her performance of "Alma Misionera" today during the Offertory and had the whole church grooving, including Fr. Joe, who was trying hard to be contemplative prior to the Eucharist but got totally drawn into Joanna's singing. I think that when she was done, if someone had asked: "Who wants to go on a mission?", every hand in the place would have shot up! This is the true measure of a good Catholic charismatic singer, the ability to motivate with his or her voice.
However, in the 8-10 year old category, I have to respectfully disagree with my friend Fr. Hoyos and the judges. I believe that the winner should have been Diana Hidalgo from St. Francis of Assisi. Diana is a 9-year old Mexican girl. She wore a beautiful traditional dress with roses worked into it and her father accompanied her on the guitar as she sang "Eres tu, Jesús".
Diana impressed me by her total self-assurance, the smoothness of her gestures. She made great symbolic use of her star, sometimes holding it up to the heavens and looking at it, other times holding it in front of her in her two hands as a priest might hold the Host when consecrating it during the Eucharist. I was also impressed by her voice -- unusually even in tone and delivery for someone so young.
I don't know why she was not selected for any of the prizes (I have a couple of theories and none of them are pretty) but I hope -- and I KNOW -- that history will prove me right. Keep an eye on Diana Hidalgo, because that girl will be a leader in our Church, if not on stage.
Photos (top to bottom): Eric, Joanna, and Diana