For most of Gerardo and Maria Torres’ relationship, any music or singing that could be heard in their Lompoc home came from a speaker attached to some sort of electronic device.
A few years after the birth of their youngest son Danny, however, that all changed.
Danny was just 3 when he became fascinated with popular Mexican singer Pedro Fernández. After watching Fernández sing on TV, Danny started patterning his own voice and singing along with him. Now five years later, Danny hasn’t stopped.
“We were surprised,” Gerardo said of Danny, who has three siblings. “We’re not used to that, because nobody in our (immediate) family sings.
“Not even in the bathroom,” he added with a laugh.
Danny, now 8 years old, is already building a reputation — and a fan base — throughout the Central Coast.
The young bilingual artist, who mostly sings mariachi, has performed at parties, contests and other events throughout Santa Barbara County and has brought home several awards for his efforts. On Sunday, he will be among the lineup of performers slated to take the stage at Ryon Park for the 37th annual Mexican Independence Celebration put on by Concilio de Lompoc.
“We’re excited to have him,” said Joe Gonzales, who has been organizing the local Mexican Independence Celebration since its inception.
Sunday’s performance is one of many that Danny has scheduled.
He will perform at Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish in Mission Hills on Saturday and then at La Purisima Catholic Church later this month, before returning to Queen of Angels in early October for another series of performances.
Danny, who may seem shy or reserved in conversation, breaks out of his shell when he's in the spotlight.
“When he’s on stage, he’s completely different,” his father said. “He gets excited when he sees a lot of people.”
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Danny said he thrives on large crowds and has never had a problem dealing with nerves. He started performing at family gatherings at 3, and branched out to perform at other parties — such as weddings and quinceañeras — as word spread about him.
Now in the fourth grade, Danny has also performed at Clarence Ruth Elementary School's annual talent show since he was in kindergarten, and he has brought home big prize money for his showings at talent shows at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
He has been performing in the Santa Barbara Zoo competitions since he was 5 and has two first-place finishes and a runner-up on his résumé. He won $500 for his first-place performance this year.
Danny uses his prize money to buy electronics or toys that he’s interested in — such as his recent purchase of an iPad — but he doesn’t charge for any of his appearances.
Gerardo said that he and his wife line up as many events for him as they can because Danny loves to be on stage. When people ask about costs, he only tells them that Danny accepts donations. Those donations are used for performance-related costs, such as travel or costumes, which can go for more than $400. Danny recently got his third costume, which he will debut Sunday at Ryon Park.
Along with Danny, Sunday’s Mexican Independence Celebration, which is also sponsored by the Chumash Casino and Taco Roco, will feature entertainment from Banda Agavera, Grupo Musical Angel, Mariachi Imperial, and Los Sagitarios.
The event is free and will last from 1 to 6 p.m.
Gonzales said he is hopeful that people from throughout Lompoc will join the city’s Hispanic community at the party.
“I would love to see all different walks of life enjoying themselves,” he said. “I’ve always heard people say they saw beautiful mariachi singers in Hawaii or in other places. Well, when you have something like that in Lompoc, you should come check it out. Every culture is beautiful.”
As for Danny Torres, he’s just looking to put on a show.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I hope there will be a lot of people.”