Three years ago, many El Pasoans already knew of Valerie Ponzio, her big smile and her bigger voice.
Then, in 2017 the country singer-songwriter took both to the national stage on NBC’s “The Voice.”
That voice garnered her the elusive “three-chair turn” from the coaches and a kiss from celebrity judge Gwen Stefani.
For a few weeks in early 2017 the city – and the nation – watched to see just how far the young woman from Northeast El Paso in the yellow dress could go. She didn’t win Season 12 of the singing competition, but Ponzio says the show opened up a lot of doors for her.
El Paso Inc. caught up with Ponzio and talked about what she’s been doing, how “The Voice” changed her life, and what’s next for her.
Q: What have you been up to since appearing on ‘The Voice’?
Things have been fun and busy. I moved to Nashville. It’s been an amazing experience living out there. It’s a very exciting lively city and on top of that, I have grown so much as an artist and songwriter.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet so many people in the industry who have been really instrumental in helping me make new steps and new moves with my music. I’ve been writing and recording a lot, trying to bring as much of my Latin culture into the country music scene. The collaboration with producers, writers and other industry figures has been really inspiring.
Q: In what ways did ‘The Voice’ change your life and your career?
‘The Voice’ was very life changing for me. It has helped me connect with so many big players that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to. I’m still working very hard to harness opportunities though. One of the things that I’m most grateful for is that I feel like it really connected me more with El Paso and the hometown support.
Q: What are you working on now?
I am currently going on radio tours promoting my single (a cover of Tejano star Selena’s English crossover hit) “I Could Fall in Love” on Texas Country radio. I’m going to go on a second promo tour in January/February. We’re really working hard on Texas, specifically with this song, so that we can hopefully hit a Texas show tour in 2020!
Q: What’s the reaction been to ‘I Could Fall in Love’ and how did Selena influence you?
I have had an amazing reaction to that song from all around. I always wanted to put Selena to a country backdrop, and that’s what I feel like you hear in this song.
She is such a powerful Tejano figure and to hear her songs done up country makes my heart happy and it doubly makes me happy to see radio programmers who passionately play and promote authentic Red Dirt Texas Country music get behind this song.
Q: You’ve been vocal on social media about your border roots and your heritage. What is Nashville’s reaction to that?
In Nashville there is room to do whatever you want. At the same time, there is also kind of a Nashville format and standard. It’s a constant give-and-take of sharing what makes you different and unique while also being aware of the existing format.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
Just a shout-out to my hometown. I’m so proud of what a beautiful city it is and the humbling true colors it showed not just the rest of the country but even the world amid extreme tragedy. When my Nashville and LA friends reach out and ask how El Paso is doing, I just tell them it’s healing in strength, beauty and love.