She’d rather be known for her Voice than her ethnicity

By Elton Lugay

Count Cheesa Laureta among the many Filipinos whose career paths are generally paved in two directions: music and health care. Confident of her singing talent, she chose music over the more stable prospects of becoming a nurse.

The Hawaii-born couldn’t be happier when she became a finalist in “The Voice,” a new reality show where aspirants compete on vocal prowess alone, as opposed to “American Idol” where looks, charisma and attitude add to the points system. She is among the 24 finalists.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Cheesa, 21, told The FilAm in a phone interview. “I know Adam (Levine, a judge) chose me but when I heard Blake (Shelton) and Christina (Aguilera) chose Angie, I didn’t know what to expect. I was praying that somehow, something would turn Cee Lo around.”

Like gladiators, Cheesa and Angie Jackson, her closest competitor, dueled in an arena-type stage singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – their weapons nothing but their powerful pipes.

Watch it here.

Judge Cee Lo Green ultimately chose Cheesa.

“To be able to do the show and make it this far is like proving that if you work hard at what you want to do in life, you will eventually make it,” she said.

Cheesa was born and raised in Hawaii, but her family moved to Los Angeles in 2007. Her parents are both Filipino. Her mom is from Cebu, her dad, a marine, from Manila. She has an older brother, who is a musical director for Charice in the Philippines.

“My family struggled financially,” she said. “My dad wanted me to be in a more stable field like nursing.”

This is not her first time on “The Voice,” a reality talent show on NBC. She auditioned during the first season but didn’t make it. Her brother urged her to try again.

“I love the concept of the show where you’re going to this blind audition and the judges don’t know how you look. They’re not even basing you on your parents or your race, how big or small you are, they are just basing you solely on your voice. And I respect that because that’s what a lot of musicians want, respect for people to love their music and their voice,” she explained. Like “Idol,” text voting is allowed.

They will be mentored by the judges in terms of song choices or interpretation. Each of the four judges will have six contestants. Cheesa is with rapper/songwriter Cee Lo.

“Cee Lo is such a true artist and he’s not afraid to show it,” she said. “His music is not just genre which I respect. He’s able to mold himself and turn songs around his own style. And that taught me to be more confident in my performance and myself as an artist and to be myself.”

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of L.A., Cheesa said she started singing at 4 years old, starting at home and in school. Later she would be invited to sing at parties and community gatherings. She is now bound for the global stage.

“If this is your passion, this is what you want to do, no matter how long it takes, it’s going to pay off cause you’re working hard at it,” she said. “Finally I get the chance to do what I want to do. That’s music.”

Sounding off on bloggers who say she’s distancing herself from her Filipino ethnicity, Cheesa decried the accusations: “I’m very proud and happy that I’m a Filipino, very proud of my cultural heritage. But I didn’t want to make that the only reason why Filipinos would vote for me. The purpose of the show was to show us that we’re special and appreciate the music, artistry.”


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Elton, a very informative article about a young Filipina American singing aspirant.

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