"We are looking for the next Frank Sinatra, Julio Iglesias and Marc Anthony," said Kennedy Ng, owner of Music World. "We're looking for kids that have a special voice that represents our community."
Auditions and preliminary competitions have been held since November, and have brought out a total of about 300 participants from all over the Hudson, Bergen and Passaic counties and the New York metro area.
From those 300 kids, 16 competitors were selected to perform in the finals this month. They were grouped by category from ages 6-12 and 13-17.
"I believe it is going to be a very tight competition because they are all good performers," said Ng.
Translated into Spanish In the previous two years, Buscando Voces had been limited to adult competitors, but this year Ng wanted to give the local younger performers of the area a chance to perform and win a demo contract with Music World. "This is especially for the kids," said Ng. "There are no other competitions in this area to give this type of opportunity to this population, especially in Spanish."
The kids will be performing different genres of music from soft ballads to sultry tangos, and even some mainstream music from the Billboard Charts - all translated into Spanish.
Teen category A first-time competitor, like many of her peers, is 17-year-old Lissette Villiavicencio of North Bergen. She will be singing renowned Latin performer Cristian Castro's hit song "Lloran las Rosas" (The Roses Cry).
"Ever since I was little I loved to sing, and I thought maybe if I could [compete] in something like this I would get to show everyone I can sing," said Lissette.
Lissette started honing her vocals skills at the age of 9 thanks to musical influences like her father, a former Bachata singer and now a radio DJ in Michigan, and her brother Sacaria Ferreires, who performs along with the local Bachata and Reggaeton group Diamante.
"I'm starting to get into more Bachata, but I like slow music and I listen to artists like Aventura and J.C. Velasquez," said Lissette.
Despite singing from a very young age, this will be Lissette's first competition and before a large audience. "I hope that the people like it when they hear me sing and that one day I get a demo," said Lissette.
Performing in the same category with Lissette will be Kevin Toban, 13, of Union City, who will be performing a tango called "Caminito" (The Little Path).
"I fell in love with the song and I felt that could sing it the best, and its music that no one has ever performed," said Kevin, who received the heads up about the competition from his music teacher Kennedy Ng.
Kevin has been performer since the age of three and has trained in musical theatre, as well as opera.
Other than that, Kevin has also sung ballads by performers like Enrique Iglesias and other Spanish genres like tango and salsa, and is also a big fan of music form R&B to Hip-Hop and Reggeaton.
"This is my first competition, but I have done performances at school and with groups like the Grace Theatre Workshop," said Kevin. "When I was younger I wasn't sure I was ready to compete, but now I'm confident and I know I can beat people. Hey I'm a cocky person and I admit it."
So, what's Kevin's attitude for this competition?
"To let no one stand in my way and to be the best," said Kevin.
,b>A big voice in a little package One of the youngest in the competition is 10-year-old Deja Monteagudo of West New York, and she will be singing "El Angel Que Quiero Yo," which is a Spanish remake of Jessica Simpson's "Angel"
"My grandmother saw the ad in the newspaper, and since she knew I love to sing and I love to compete, she though it was a good opportunity for me to enter," said Deja.
This is also Deja's first formal singing competition, although she has been receiving vocal training for the past three years.
"I have never really been in competitions, but my singing teacher will always hold get together with her students and the parents and we hear each other sing," said Deja, who even received looks of admiration from her fellow competitors during rehearsals as she belted out lyrics.
"I love to sing because you can really relate to the music, and it can tell about your past, present, and your future," said Deja.
Deja has performed everything from slow ballads to energetic rock songs, and admires performers like as Avril Lavinge.
"I'm not very good at Spanish, so I didn't think they would let me in at first," said Deja.
However, the committee for Buscando Voces allows participants to pick any song they want, and perform a translated version.
"My teacher said [Angel] was a good song, so my grandmother got me the words in Spanish, and it took me two days to learn the pronunciation," said Deja. "I like singing in Spanish now."
As far as the competition is concerned, Deja is just content with the opportunity to share her voice with a larger audience and is not worried about winning.
"I don't care if I win or I don't; I just want people to get to hear me sing," said Deja.
The first place winner of the competition from each category will get a professionally made CD single. Second place winners will get to make a demo, and third place winners will receive a scholarship, sponsored by Union City Mayor Brian Stack, for six months of vocal lessons at Music World.
Admission to the competition is free to the public, and performances start at 4:30 p.m. on June 11.