Long Beach’s Laura Padilla will spend part of her summer in the company of several hundred musicians, learning about music theory and refining her craft at a summer workshop in Boston, Mass.
The St. Anthony High School senior recently was awarded a full scholarship to attend a five-week summer performance program at the Berklee College of Music. The scholarship is part of a collaboration between Berklee College and A Place Called Home, a nonprofit youth center in South Central that Padilla attends.
“It is a huge advantage for us to have access to the partnership with Berklee in terms of what we are able to give our students to advance,” said Charyn Harris, lead music consultant and director of the music department at A Place Called Home.
Padilla is the 14th student from A Place Called Home to receive the summer program scholarship.
For two past awardees, this opportunity turned into full, four-year scholarships to Berklee College, which is an outcome Padilla said she is hoping for as well.
“Laura is, in terms of vocal ability, mature beyond her years,” Harris said. “She’s always prepared, very professional. I feel that this is an exciting opportunity for her that I hope will lead to a full scholarship to attend Berklee, because I know that is her dream.”
Padilla started singing about five years ago when she became involved in the school choir. Then, after winning some contests and talent shows, she entered a reality singing competition for 14- and 15-year-old girls on Telemundo called “Quinceañera.” Padilla, who looks up to such artists as Yuri, a Latin pop singer, and Alexz Johnson, a Canadian singer/songwriter, ended up as one of the show’s six finalists.
It was taped in Mexico and Miami, Fla., and although that meant working many late nights and early mornings in addition to being away from her family for several months, Padilla said it brought to life her dream of becoming a professional singer.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “It showed me the real side of the music business… I just love being able to go up on a stage and do what I love to do, which is sing, and to have people be entertained.”
This summer, she will be able to take classes in musicianship and theory and attend lectures about songwriting — outlets she previously did not have much access to. She said she’s very much looking forward to this educational opportunity because she didn’t have much time to study music while in high school.
“She’s got a really strong voice,” Harris said. “I have heard her sing everything from Aretha Franklin to Cyndi Lauper. She really delivers.
“…She has this incredible instrument and great stage presence and she is this incredible performer, which is rare for someone so young.”
For more information about the Berklee College of Music, visit www.berklee.edu.
For more information about A Place Called Home, go to www.apch.org.