The 15-year-old sophomore at Tracy High School says that’s because she has been singing as long as she can remember.
“Anywhere, any chance I get, I want to perform — I want people to hear me,” Gabriela said. “I want to get out in front of the crowds.”
The young singer got her chance March 23, when she was named the winner of the fifth annual Tracy’s Got Talent competition at the Kimball High School theater.
Gabriela’s guitar-and-vocal performance of KT Tunstall’s “Fade Like a Shadow” won over the judges, who named her the top talent in a field of 17 finalists that included dancing, singing and comedy performances.
She said the final round of Tracy’s Got Talent was more nerve-wracking than performing in a talent show a few years earlier at Williams Middle School.
“I was confident, but there was a lot of other good competition,” Gabriela said. “I was surprised to hear my name that I won.”
Gabriela has a passion for music. She plays her guitar — a Christmas present a few years ago — nearly every day, sometimes late into the evening.
She is also teaching herself to play keyboard and said she favors alternative rock and indie rock music.
“She sleeps music, breathes music — she talks about it all the time,” said her mother, Cindy Santiago.
Proceeds from Tracy’s Got Talent are used by the Tracy Educational Excellence Foundation to fund mini-grants to local schools and other programs.
Grants of up to $500 are used to pay for field trips and other educational opportunities that have been lost because of state budget restraints.
Brandi Harrold, one of the show organizers, said this year’s lineup offered a mix of entertainment.
“Kids are getting more talented — we had a little bit more variety,” Harrold said. “It amazes me the talent we have here in Tracy.”
Performers auditioned at the end of February before a judging panel that narrowed the field to the final 17 contestants, who faced the judges one last time at Kimball High.
Harrold said the group was mostly singers, but the show also featured a cheer team, a tap dancer and two comedians.
The competition was open to 5-year-olds to adults, but all of the contestants this year were students, the youngest in third grade.
As the winner of Tracy’s Got Talent, Gabriela has a chance to share her music with crowds at events around Tracy.
Harrold said Gabriela will perform at the July Fourth Day in the Park and the Tracy Dry Bean Festival in September.
Down the road, Gabriela hopes to build her love of music into a profession as a singer or songwriter and has already written a few songs. She said she would like to teach music someday.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.