Andréa Robles, a 13-year-old East Hall Middle School student, never expected to have a chance to travel across the world to sing at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
But she has a chance to do just that.
She was first nominated by her chorus teacher, Emily Allison, to sing alongside around 500 musicians from various countries in the 2019 Middle School Honors Performance Series at the Royal Festival Hall. The event takes place from July 17-21.
“To me, this means a lot,” Andréa said. “So many other kids could have gotten this, and I’m the only one in the state of Georgia that got it. This is definitely one of the things in my life that I will never ever take for granted.”
For five days Andréa will rehearse under master conductors leading up to a final performance with the other young musicians at the Royal Festival Hall.
Every year the Honors Performance Series selects young musicians to receive the chance of performing at renown music halls like Carnegie Hall in New York City, Sydney Opera House and Royal Festival Hall.
After receiving the initial nomination, Andréa had to send back a professional recording of herself singing sheet music provided by the Honors Performance Series. When she found out that she became accepted, her parents, Brenda and Joseph Robles, said they would go to any lengths to help their daughter seize the opportunity.
“For use, we’re humbled and so thankful that this is happening for her,” Joseph Robles said. “As big as this is, this is only the beginning. She’s only 13 and she has a bright future.”
Andréa likes to say that she was born into music.
She said her mother has a talent for singing and her father serves as a bilingual worship leader at her church, IDV International Gainesville.
Andréa started to take singing seriously in the fifth grade, later joining her school’s chorus group. She also sings regularly in her church’s choir.
Andréa said her world lacks color without music.
“When I sing, it’s like the door to my own world opens,” she said. “I can forget about everything else that is happening and just focus on the songs and the notes. I think of it as my personal utopia.”
Andréa, who also is fluent in Spanish, often surprises people when she mentions her favorite genre. She prefers K-pop, a musical genre from South Korea.
“I love K-pop,” she said. “Not only does it have such an amazing rhythm and beat to dance to, it’s all meaningful.”
She has picked up the language over the past couple of years and considers herself a beginner Korean speaker.
One of her biggest musical inspirations happens to be BTS, a seven-member boy band from South Korea. The K-pop group won the top social artist at The Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas for 2017 and 2018, and continues to gain international recognition.
Andréa said the boy band’s encouraging songs make them stand out among other musicians.
“What I love about BTS is that they see what I think most artists don’t see,”Andréa said. “What most don’t see is the problem in our generation, which is people loving themselves. It’s very rare that you find someone in our generation calling themselves cute or pretty.”
Andréa said her ultimate career dream entails becoming an icon, not just because of outward appearances, but because of the lyrics she writes.
Like BTS, she hopes to empower people to see themselves in a positive light.
If she becomes a professional singer, Andréa said she wants to name her first album, “Everything.”
“The reason I want my album to be called ‘Everything,’ is because I want them to love everything about themselves and everything they’ve done right,” she said.
At 13, Andréa belts out powerful songs, including those from the artist, Whitney Houston.
Singing with a soulful and booming voice, Andréa said one of her biggest fears is that people will tell her she’s “too young” to start pursuing her dreams.
“I think the only thing you could really say back to that is, ‘It’s always good to start early,’” she said.
Performing at the Royal Festival Hall in London will prove a huge step in Andréa’s musical journey. She said what excites her the most about the opportunity includes the rehearsals an workshops led by professional conductors.
Andréa’s family has set up a GoFundMe account for others to help with the cost of the program and travel expenses. Both Brenda and Joseph Robles will go with their daughter to the five-day event.
Joseph Robles said while his family is doing their part to help with the costs, they want to reach out to the Hall County community for assistance. He hopes to raise $5,000 before the trip in July.
“We’re just thankful for people’s attention and time,” Joseph Robles said. “Anything they can do to help us meet this goal is greatly appreciated. We take a lot of pride in where we’re from and who we’re representing. We want to do our best to represent this community in a good way.”
People can help Andréa sing in the Honor Series Performance by making donations to www.gofundme.com/andrea-goes-to-london.