The Voice’s blind auditions saw a historic moment for the LGBTQ+ community as the first openly transgender contestant to take the Voice USA stage aired last week.
Angel Bonilla from the Philippines, who shared that she was given the name Carlos at birth, auditioned to Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down, but viewers were not able to enjoy the entire performance because her screen time was part of a montage and her talent was not showcased. And why is that, NBC? Although, based on the video Angel made it onto #TeamAdam. Angel’s rendition of the song is available on iTunes.
The video clip shows Angel sharing her story:
As early as 5 years old, I already knew that I am a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Growing up in a very conservative family, it was very difficult for my father. When my dad saw me as a girl for the first time, he was puzzled. He’s not sure if I am his son, but he embraced me. I promised him that I will do great things. I wanted my father to be proud of me, and I’m doing this to honor him.
Angel also competed on Season 1 of The X Factor where she made it to Boot Camp with a cover of Killing Me Softly and competed in Bulgaria’s Discovery International Pop Song Festival—yeah that’s a real thing.
I got in touch with Angel Bonilla for Instinct Magazine for an exclusive look at The Voice contender and to learn a little more about what drives the vocal powerhouse:
When did you start singing?
I started singing when I was 5 years old back in the Philippines. I loved joining local amateur singing contests around my town in LAGUNA Philippines
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I'm a big TONI BRAXTON fan! I also love Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston–and of course Sade and Ella Fitzgerald.
Why did you decide to compete on The Voice?
First of all, they are one of the biggest shows on earth! And also The Voice is a great platform. I will be judged by my voice for the first time in my life! In most cases I am judged by my gender first, before I sing. And also I'd like to represent the trans community. I want to encourage my fellow sisters(transgender) to fight for their dreams.
As an openly trans artist, do you think you face additional challenges in this competition?
I always live with a positive outlook on life. Of course it's challenging for everyone. They see me as an artist, not as a transgender artist. And I'm really thankful for that. NEVER GIVE UP! Follow your dreams. You are the one who controls your destiny. Embrace and love yourself, be proud! And most importantly is be kind to others, you can never go wrong with kindness.
How has your transition played a part in your love for music?
Music is the love of my life. I am able to express my struggles, challenges and success through music, while I'm transitioning. It's an outlet for me. It's the food of my soul.
What words of inspiration would you share with the LGBTQ+ individuals?
When you follow your heart with persistence and giving up! Dreams come true!
Other than winning The Voice, what do you hope to accomplish by being a part of the competition?
I'm hoping to release an album. Right now I am able to reach out to more people, so I would like to use that opportunity to educate the world about transwomen. I've always been active in charity events that benefit the LGBTQ community and I will continue that. I'm also hoping to be invited on Ellen show. I've always been a big fan. She inspired me. 🙂
Some responses were edited for clarity.
Moving forward, we wonder if Angel will have what it takes to garner more screen time and what she will turn out during the battle rounds.
And in case you’re dying to hear Angel belt it out, here’s a video of her doing a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s Just Like a Star: