Denise Kara: Big voice, big dreams

The ukulele strumming Kara. She wants to be a singer and a nurse when she grows up.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Denise Kara Almario, like Shirley Temple before her decades ago, started singing when she was 2 years old. When her family realized she had this nascent singing talent coming out of her voice, Kara’s parents did what Shirley Temple’s parents had done: They encouraged her to continue singing and enrolled her with a voice teacher.

“I have singing lessons,” said Kara when interviewed by The FilAm via email.

Shirley’s and Kara’s lives would fork into different paths. The American legend started doing films when her acting savvy became apparent at a young age. Our little Kara continues to sing before the Filipino American community of New Jersey and New York, taking her singing with her at appearances on Makilala TV, Feinstein’s/54 Below, and the Radio City Music Hall with TOFA performing artists, among many esteemed venues. She brings to her audiences a bundle of energy never before witnessed in the FilAm community since, probably, the breakthrough of singing sensation Banig Roberto from California in the early 1980s. At 9 years old, the youngest child of Dennis and Jenny Almario of Jersey City has the American Dream almost in her pocket.

Bubbly, tiny singer

Kara is a fourth-grade student at Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City, which ranks higher than the New Jersey state average in Math and Languages. Asian Americans comprise more than 24 percent of its ethnic enrollment. Here, Kara is known as the bubbly, tiny singer.

Holidays with the Almarios: Dennis and Jenny with their children Denny and Kara.
Her mom says Kara gets a ‘reward,’ such as a Sagoto bubble tea, when she does well in school.

“Singing is not affecting her schooling,” said her father Dennis who works at PC Richard & Son and is a part-time DJ. Dennis hails from Cavite.

Weekdays after school, she does her homework then goes to her voice, piano, or ukulele lessons, whatever is scheduled for the night. Friday nights are Family Nights, and the Almarios go to watch a movie or dine out. Dennis said rehearsals are usually on weekends, and sometimes they take all the way to midnight. If she’s not rehearsing, she is likely to be performing.

“Saturdays and Sundays are mostly her gigs,” he said.

She’s been fond of singing since she was about 2, said her mother Jenny, a native of Manila.

“Mahilig na sya magkanta-kanta at sumayaw tapos daddy po nya DJ mahilig sa music. May videogames kami na ‘Just Dance’ kaya nakahiligan din nya sumayaw,” she said.

Her first public appearance was the opening of a spa and physical therapy clinic at Hudson Mall in Jersey City. She was 6 years old.

She represented the U.S. in the 23rd annual World Championships of Performing Arts 2019 in Long Beach, California, coming home with plaques and medals in the World Division, Junior Division, Junior Vocal Self Accompaniment Division, Original Works Division, and the Junior Vocal Original Works Division.

Recently she won first place in the Mid Atlantic Music Teachers Guild competition for students who are instrumentalists or vocalists. Kara has consistently reaped honors at MAMTG since 2017.

With her favorite singer Angel Ram.

“I realize I was a good singer when I was 5 years old,” said Kara, who unabashedly admitted that, yes, she could sing and that she was good enough to go public with what she’s got. As a guest performer at Makilala TV two years ago, she strode on stage and dove right into her song and dance number called ‘Friend in Me’ like a real trouper. It was like she was born to perform.

There are two singers she idolizes: Angel Ram and Taylor Swift.

“Tita Angel is a great singer. She is my favorite singer in the community,” she said. “I did a duet with her.” Taylor’s songs she was vocalizing as a young girl.


Kara is currently being managed by entertainment producer Robert Blume.

“May event po kami napuntahan na kumanta sya tapos meron po lumapit samin at gusto sya e-manage, si Robert Blume,” said Jenny. Robert liked Kara instantly.

Kara has two siblings — brother Denny Clark, 12, and elder sister Jennica, 19.

“I like performing during Christmas,” said the girl who has a booked solid holiday calendar. “It makes me think about Jesus and Jesus’s birthday, and I like singing Christmas songs.”

© The FilAm 2019

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