Pictured: Opera singer Bárbara Padilla. Photo Credit: NUNU.

Pictured: Opera singer Bárbara Padilla. Photo Credit: NUNU.

You may remember Bárbara Padilla as the vibrant, classical-crossover Mexican soprano who dazzled the judges and the audience when she took center stage on America’s Got Talent in 2009. Her spectacular performance of Charles Gounod’s “Ave Maria” prompted judge Piers Morgan to declare, “It was the single greatest vocal performance we’ve ever had on America’s Got Talent!”

Her soaring vocals, charisma and beauty made her a fan favorite, but it was also Padilla’s personal story as a cancer survivor that resonated with viewers and led to her first runner-up status (and created a devoted legion of fans worldwide). Since then, her time in the spotlight hasn’t wavered — Padilla has performed as a soloist at symphonic events and has given concerts and recitals throughout the United States, Italy and Mexico, as well as gone on tour with recording legend Juan Gabriel and released a self-titled debut album, Bárbara Padilla.

The beautiful chanteuse took a moment to speak to GALO amidst her crazy schedule about life since her AGT debut, recording her latest self-titled album with her “dream team,” and how her battle with cancer gave her a second chance at life.

Editorial Note: This interview was conducted in November, when Padilla was still on tour with singer Juan Gabriel.

GALO: Your personal story and incredible voice clearly resonated with audiences of America’s Got Talent, as they voted you first-runner up after your performance of “Ave Maria.” What did it mean to you to have such success in that competition?

Bárbara Padilla: Before AGT, I saw myself exclusively as an opera singer. After AGT, I [now] know there’s a whole world of music that can be done and adapted for me to sing. There are so many possibilities out there and I am hungry for them!

I learned that the audience is the most important factor in every artist’s career. The public makes you. I learned to establish an intimacy with them that I did not know before. I also fell in love with this new genre — classical crossover — which is a fusion of classical music with pop.

GALO: Let’s talk about your battle with cancer, which has been a big part of your life. Making it through that ordeal, did you see it as a second chance to do something with your musical talents?

BP: I’ve seen it as a second chance for everything. One of the most important things, in my opinion, is to be able to tell my story. My music is the vehicle to reach more people with a message of hope. And that is one of my dearest goals in life. I love being a survivor because I have some inside information of what it is to face death and defeat it — at least temporarily.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”I can tell you, having recorded in those two studios with those orchestras and those guys can spoil you rotten for the rest of your life.” link=”” color=”#ff0000″ class=”” size=”15″][/pullquote]

GALO: Rather than sing traditional opera, what drew you to the more versatile genre of “popera?”

BP: Well, it’s been a fascinating journey. First, I thought to release a CD of opera arias (songs from well-known operas). I actually recorded it, but then I realized that I wanted to embrace a genre that I had just discovered thanks to AGT: classical crossover. So, the process took an interesting turn. I recorded an album that includes beautiful Latin music. [But] that one is on hold because I had the great opportunity to work with the dream team. I got in touch with producer Gregg Field who, along with co-producer and arranger Jorge Calandrelli, had just won the Grammy for producer of the year. We started working on the album Bárbara Padilla, which is a more international project. It did take quite a long time to release, but I am extremely happy with everything the way it happened.

GALO: You now have a new self-titled album out, Bárbara Padilla. What was your approach to making this album and what statement did you want it to make?

BP: Part of the process, and why we embarked on this crazy adventure, started when Gregg suggested that we record three songs in Capitol Records and see what could happen. With Calandrelli being the arranger and Al Schmitt being the engineer, what could go wrong? I’ll tell you: absolutely nothing. We loved it so much that one day Gregg calls me and tells me, “Let’s record seven more songs with the London Symphony Orchestra in Abbey Road Studios…” To which I answered, “Are you crazy?” But we all were! So my husband, Kyle, and I got all the support we needed — financial and moral — from family and friends that believed in the project and helped us out unconditionally.

I can tell you, having recorded in those two studios with those orchestras and those guys can spoil you rotten for the rest of your life.

GALO: You have already accomplished so much and show no signs of stopping. You are currently on tour with recording legend Juan Gabriel, and you continue to give performances such as the National Anthem at NFL’S opening game. What goals do you have for the future?

BP: [Laughs] Nope, no signs, nor intentions. I think I will climb as high as God allows me. I have a wonderful team behind this success, and this year we are determined to make it the best year yet!

Video courtesy of Moon Moosic.

To learn more about Padilla, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @barbarapadiva. For those interested in purchasing her latest album, you can do so by visiting her website’s official store.