Elia Esparza is hopeful for another moment in the sun.
The pop singer-songwriter was in the national music spotlight in 2016, when she turned heads – and chairs – on NBC’s popular singing competition, “The Voice.”
Since then, the native El Pasoan has been performing across the city and the region, fine-tuning her voice, writing and recording music and making videos.
“I’m ready to get out there again,” Esparza said in a phone interview from her home, where she’s been taking and giving voice lessons online and writing music with her boyfriend Mark Ramos, a guitarist touring with country crooner Frank Ray of Las Cruces.
Esparza, who graduated from Americas High School in 2010, attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts to study acting. While in New York, she worked gigs with her band, and was also a performer at children’s birthday parties
“I worked as a clown, a princess, a waitress, a baby sitter – all of it,” Esparza said. “It was a lot of work, but it was fun. Working parties was a way of performing. I got to act and to sing.”
She auditioned for “The Voice” in 2016, joining Team Adam after singing Selena’s “Como La Flor.” She was eliminated in the competition’s battle round, but says the experience was like no other.
“I learned a lot and it gave me a lot of exposure and inspiration,” she said.
Her time in isolation with Ramos during the COVID-19 pandemic led to her newest single, “We Could Be,” a sultry pop ballad released last week.
“We could be just like this, with every kiss and every moment,” Esparza sings. “It don’t matter where we are, you still got my heart, you still take me beyond.”
She and Ramos appeared in a recently released music video by Valerie Ponzio, another El Pasoan who made her mark on “The Voice.” The video for her 2019 song, “Orale,” was released earlier this year after being put on hold following the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting.
El Paso Inc. caught up with Esparza on her life, her music and working with a fellow “Voice” contestant.
Q: It’s been almost four years since you were on “The Voice.” What have you been up to since then?
I was fortunate to play all across El Paso and the region at all kinds of festivals and events. And I’ve been working with (El Paso’s own) Beacon Hill Recording Studios (which has worked with Khalid) on some of my own music and honing my craft, my voice, my sound.
Q: What are your musical inspirations, and how they have evolved ?
We’ve always been a very creative and musical family. (Her younger brother, Alex, 20, plays guitar and bass.) I grew up with music at home all the time. My dad introduced me to everything from Queen to Janice Joplin to Aretha Franklin. I connected with a lot of that old soulful rock.
I grew up in the 90s listening to mainstream pop so there was a lot of Whitney (Houston), Mariah (Carey) always playing. There was also Spanish music like Selena and Sin Bandera. A great mix of music all around.
Q: Tell us about your new song, “We Could Be,” and the inspiration behind it.
I wrote it and it was produced by Beacon Hill Recording Studios. The song was written about my boyfriend and our connection, especially since we’ve been locked up together writing music and working on our craft. He loves space, he’s a space nerd, so I wrote around the idea of love above and beyond.
Q: You recently worked with Valerie Ponzio. Any collaborations in the works?
We definitely connected after both appearing on “The Voice” and we’ve followed each other’s work.
It was great fun working on the video all around El Paso with her. We’re working on a cover and maybe another YouTube video together.
Q: Where do you go from here once venues begin opening up following this pandemic?
El Paso has been very supportive and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I would love to begin touring in different cities to grow my band, my audience and my music.
But El Paso will always be home and El Paso Strong will always be in my heart.