By Gaige Davila
Port Isabel High School graduate Michael Bernard is on his way to Mariachi stardom, judging by his television debut this past week.
Bernard traveled to Los Angeles earlier this month to tape his audition for “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento,” a Spanish-language program similar to “America’s Got Talent.” He performed Marco Antonio Solis’ “Se Veia Venir,” a song about predicting the end of a relationship, Bernard said he relates to.
“I had that same experience, I had the feeling of anticipation for what I knew was going to happen, what I truly desire, but I was repressing that desire,” Bernard told the PRESS in a phone call.
His audition aired on Sept. 21, in the first episode of “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento’s” 25th season. Bernard made it past the first round, meaning he’ll return to Los Angeles in October for the second round. That episode will air in late October or early November.
For Bernard, singing and playing in a mariachi band has been a lifelong endeavor.
“Mariachi has been my strongest suit, in regards to singing and performing,” Bernard said. “It’s what I am very comfortable doing and it’s what people have loved.”
Raised by both his parents and grandparents, Bernard’s homes have been filled with music. Bernard’s grandparents were in the choir at the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Port Isabel. Bernard would sing with his grandparents while attending church there.
In second grade, Bernard joined the choir, under instructor Norma Minkler, continuing to Derry Elementary under Maria Ramone. Bernard also joined florflorico in Derry, which aids his musical influence.
“Dancing also helped a lot,” Bernard said. “Feeling the music in general, so I’ve been dancing ever since. I’ve always told everybody that I’ve been dancing since I was in my mother’s womb.”
In junior high, Bernard joined band as a percussionist, along with a slew of other extracurricular activities: President of the National Junior Honor Society, President of the student council.
“That leadership really prepared me for high school when it came to being on stage,” Bernard said. “It gave me that confidence to be aware of what I’m doing and be confident in letting myself be vulnerable to people.”
In high school, Bernard joined the Mariachi Plata, along with tennis, DECA, and student council. He says it was in Mariachi where he felt a true connection with the genre, after listening to it growing up.
“In DECA and in student council, I was involved in the leadership committees, which also helped me grow that confidence to be bold, which is the kind of the aesthetic in mariachi, especially when you’re on stage.”
With so much music present in Bernard’s life, it may be hard to believe that he only started signing publicly his sophomore year of high school. After graduating in 2018, Bernard began performing in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Juvenil Mariachi Atzalan.
Regardless, Bernard says he still is learning to accept his singing voice.
“It has been a struggle to like my own voice,” Bernard said. “That’s been a journey of my own that I’m still dealing with today. Over the years it’s gotten better, in terms of me accepting my voice and just learning to like it.”
In high school, Bernard’s multiple ascension through the Mariachi Plata, through All Valley and All Region auditions, were essential to finding his musicality.
“It helped me find who I am as a singer, it helped me find who I am musically,” Bernard said.
And that journey continues for Bernard, who is currently on leave from UTRGV as he plans his next move. Currently, he’s performing with Mariachi Sol Azteca in Brownsville, headed by PI-ISD Mariachi Director Obed Salas.
“I’m still figuring out what I want to do in regards to my career,” Bernard said. “It’s great because I have the support of my family and they’ve been really understanding as well.”
He continued, “I’m not forcing anything that isn’t part of my life path, my journey, I just hope that I was able to bring some sort of emotion to somebody in my performance, that’s all my hope is, to share my light and to remind other people of their own light.”
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