UTEP Alum Wins Mexico Talent Contest

By Lisa Y. Garibay

UTEP News Service

Alexis Montoya, a vocal performance major who graduated with his bachelor’s from UTEP in December 2011, reached for a big goal. And on Dec. 16, he attained it.

Montoya beat out 25 other talented contestants to win the 10th edition of La Academia, a televised singing talent show presented by TV Azteca in Mexico. Montoya’s award included a recording contract and one million pesos, plus the producing prowess of Cruz Martinez, who has won numerous Latin Grammy Awards for his work with Alicia Villareal and Los Kumbia Kings.UTEP alum Alexis Montoya shows off his trophy from the Mexican talent show La Academia. Photo courtesy of TV Azteca UTEP alum Alexis Montoya shows off his trophy from the Mexican talent show La Academia. Photo courtesy of TV Azteca

“I went to the audition of La Academia 5 when I was living in Guadalajara and I was rejected after the very first round,” Montoya recalls. “Then, I only had been a trumpet player and was starting to play the guitar and sing a little bit. The only vocal ability that I had by then was that I could sing in tune, but my voice was very small. Two years after I started my training at UTEP, I was prepared. I went back to the audition of La Academia 10 and I got it.”

The 26-year-old singer is the first native of Sonora to win the contest. While at UTEP, Montoya was an active member of the music department’s chorale and opera workshop (also known as Opera UTEP), performing several times alongside professional opera singers in El Paso Opera productions including Madama Butterfly. In 2009, Montoya showed off his acting chops as part of a duet that conducted “Opera Attacks” performances that promoted El Paso Opera and treated unsuspecting restaurant patrons to a quick, spontaneous burst of operatic singing. A teaser of one of these performances can be viewed here.

“His true love was and is contemporary singing styles,” said Elisa Fraser Wilson, D.M.A., associate professor of voice and music theatre. “He studied voice with me and often brought in his guitar so we could coach his original songs and other pop rep, in addition to arias and classical art songs.” Wilson recalls that as part of El Paso Opera’s contemporary production The Desert Song, Montoya showcased his versatility when his contemporary ensemble performed Mexican popular songs pre-show before Montoya joined the cast for the operetta.

“At UTEP I developed my voice,” Montoya said. “I achieved great success in nine semesters that would have taken me years and years without this training. I also learned by just watching Dr. Elisa Wilson doing her job to come up with ideas about scenery. In some concerts at La Academia, some things that were on stage (dancers, scenery, lights, camera angles) were my ideas. All that came from my music theater class.”

Votes via text and phone helped determine Montoya’s success throughout the competition, which began Aug. 26. The finale was held in Chiapas, Mexico, on Dec. 16.

A video of Alexis being declared winner can be viewed here and his finale performance of Yahir’s hit song “La Locura” can be seen here.

After winning, Montoya posted in Spanish on his Twitter page, “We won my friends. I am the happiest man in the world right now. Many thanks to everyone, truly.”

He is now planning to take the acting classes offered by TV Azteca as part of his prize while also sorting out details on his soon-to-be-recorded album, which he says “will definitely be Mexican music: a mix of mariachi, norteño and my favorite, country.”

“I am delighted to see his success,” Wilson said. “He is living his dream!”