Archive for September, 2013

Released today by Columbia Records:




(Columbia Records; New York, NY – September 30, 2013) – Forte, the multicultural, operatic tenor trio whose performances on America’s Got Talent captivated millions and launched the group into the national spotlight, has signed with SYCO/Columbia Records.

Forte is pleased to announce the release of their self-titled debut album, available everywhere November 12. The lead single “Caruso” is available digitally today: http://www.smarturl.it/forteiTunes. Pre-order the album here: http://www.smarturl.it/forte. In addition, the album features “The Prayer,” a duet with fellow America’s Got Talent finalist Cami Bradley, as well as several songs the group performed on the show including “My Heart Will Go On,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Pie Jesu.” See below for track listing, and listen to “Caruso” on SoundCloud now.

“We are excited to be joining one of the most prestigious labels in the entire music industry,” the group said. “To go from complete strangers to a bona fide group on the same label as the top names in music is simply incredible. We can’t wait to share this album with our fans.”

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Forte are gearing up for a very special New Year’s in Las Vegas. The New Tropicana Las Vegas will play host to three very special New Year’s weekend headline performances by the group, taking place December 28, 29, and 30. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.troplv.com. Forte will also headline New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall on Saturday, November 16 as part of a benefit concert for Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation, which supports those living with autism. Tickets are available starting Friday, October 18. Visit www.carnegiehall.org for more.


It’s hard to imagine the members of Forte were complete strangers a few months ago. Having met just days before their first audition for America’s Got Talent, the trio mesmerized millions on the eighth season of the reality competition series. Solo artists in their own right, Josh Page, Sean Panikkar and Fernando Varela combine their individual talents to create one incredible, multicultural vocal force.

Josh Page answered his musical calling in 2011, after randomly being pulled on stage by Josh Groban to duet with the superstar at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. He has since been invited to fill in for Andrea Bocelli at rehearsals and joined former America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho on tour as a guest. Sean Panikkar, whose parents are from Sri Lanka, never dreamed of a career in opera. In fact, he enrolled in the engineering program at the University of Michigan. Opera gradually became a bigger part of Panikkar’s life, and after college, the singer performed with several prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera. Raised in Puerto Rico, Fernando Varela was discovered on YouTube by hitmaker David Foster and ultimately won Foster’s “Born To Sing” contest. Varela’s global performances span some 31 countries, including a performance in Monte Carlo, Monaco with Maestro Giancarlo Chiaramello (conductor for the late Luciano Pavarotti), the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra in Canada and the National Symphony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Forte track listing:

1. The Prayer

2. Pie Jesu

3. Somewhere

4. Unchained Melody

5. My Heart Will Go On

6. Caruso

7. Nessun Dorma

8. Bridge Over Troubled Water

9. Something

10. O Holy Night

11. Silent Night

For more, visit:







Catharine McNelly | Columbia Records

Catharine.McNelly@sonymusic.com | 212-833-4731

Russell Eslamifar | Syco Entertainment

Russell.Eslamifar@sycoentertainment.com | 310-467-5704


America’s Got Talent returned this past summer with the hottest performers from across the country competing in the blockbuster reality show’s eighth season. Bringing the variety show format back to the forefront of American culture each week, the show features a colorful array of hopeful future stars — singers, dancers, comedic performers and unique acts of all ages. While each contestant has the chance to strut and perform in front of a panel of celebrity judges including Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Mel B, and Heidi Klum, the eventual winner is chosen by the television viewing audience. Since launching in 2006, America’s Got Talent has been sold in 177 countries, with localized versions of the hit being produced in more than 54 countries around the world.


Syco Entertainment is a joint venture between Simon Cowell and Sony Music and is one of the world’s leading global music, film and television production companies responsible for some of the world’s most successful global TV and music franchises. Syco Entertainment is also the world’s most successful producer of international talent with Syco Music being the record label home for such diverse international recording artists as One Direction, Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle, Little Mix, Labrinth, IL Divo, Jonathan and Charlotte, Tate Stevens, Emblem3, Fifth Harmony, James Arthur, Ella Henderson and the Loveable Rogues. Syco’s television assets include the global franchises The X Factor and Got Talent. The X Factor was created by Syco Television and is produced by Syco Television and FremantleMedia. Local versions of The X Factor are produced in more than 42 territories and the US version of The X Factor airs in over 205 countries. Got Talent first launched in the US as America’s Got Talent and remains the No. 1 summer entertainment show. America’s Got Talent airs in 193 countries with original versions of the format now produced in 56 territories around the world, making it the world’s biggest selling TV format. Britain’s Got Talent remains the highest rated entertainment series since it launched. The 2013 series finale of BGT had a peak audience of 17.4 million, the highest peak since the 2009 final. Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 discovered the global singing career of Susan Boyle, who has sold 19 million records to date. Got Talent has boosted broadcasters’ prime time audience shares by more than 300%. 

Syco is co-producing an autobiographical 3D film centered upon the lives of global pop sensation One Direction. Morgan Spurlock will direct the film, giving fans a snapshot look into the lives of the band as they embark on the sold out world-wide tour. Additionally, Simon Cowell is Executive Producing with Harvey Weinstein to create a film centered around the remarkable success story of Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts, with James Corden taking the role of Potts.


One of the most respected and successful record labels in the world, Columbia Records is home to established superstars and exciting new talent. Columbia Records is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.


Sony Music Entertainment is a global recorded music company with a current roster that includes a broad array of both local artists and international superstars. The company boasts a vast catalog that comprises some of the most important recordings in history. It is home to premier record labels representing music from every genre, including Arista Nashville, Beach Street, Bystorm Entertainment, Columbia Nashville, Columbia Records, Day 1, Descendant Records, Epic Records, Essential Records, Essential Worship, Fo Yo Soul Recordings, Kemosabe Records, Legacy Recordings, MASTERWORKS, Polo Grounds, RCA Inspiration, RCA Nashville, RCA Records, Reunion Records, Sony Classical, Sony Music Latin, Star Time International, Syco Music, Vested in Culture and Volcano. Sony Music Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America.

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Great letter.

Dear Reader

Note: This open letter is in response to the backlash of a little afro latina girl winning a pageant.   The pageant was for Miss Little Hispanic Delaware. The reason for the backlash? She’s black. Here’s more about this story. 

Dear Jakiyah,

Congratulations on winning Little Miss Hispanic Delaware! Despite what came after your win, know that you are a winner and no one can take that from you.

I’m writing you this letter because I am also an Afro Latina. That’s what we’re called because part of our roots come from Africa. We have darker skin and courser hair than our other friends. But this stuff you already know because I know, even without meeting you, that you are brilliant.

So, let me tell you something you don’t know, something that is going to be hard to understand for someone so young. My love, this will happen to…

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My latest for NBCL

NBC Latino

Is there really a ‘shared Latino history?’

This week, the six-hour “Latino Americans” documentary made its national debut. I was one of the few who actually received the whole series in advance and was excited about the prospect.

Yet when I saw it, I was disinterested until the series moved into more modern times with first-person accounts.

Like one friend said to me, “This series feels like going to a really cool history class with a very bad professor.” One reviewer said it best:   “The documentary, narrated by Benjamin Bratt (son of a Peruvian mother), is rather dry in spite of the rich subject matter. It’s particularly slow-going at the start (the pre-Alamo section is a slog), but it picks up steam as the chronology moves toward the modern age with notables contributing first-person accounts.”

Don’t get me wrong, the early content needed to be examined and yes, a large…

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My bro!

NBC Latino

Dancer Kenichi Ebina was named the winner of “America’s Got Talent” during Wednesday night’s two-hour finale, beating out Puerto Rican opera singer Fernando Varela.

As the Season 8 winner, Ebina’s victory as America’s favorite earned him a cool $1 million prize and the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas.

“It’s amazing,” Kenichi said after being announced a winner. “I want to thank my wife and my daughter [for] being supportive all the way through and all the fans that support us.”

But it seems like Varela remains positive about pursuing a full-time singing career.

“We are excited about the future!” tweeted Varela Thursday morning after the show, adding a hint of big news to come.

“We have big news coming soon. ¡Viva FORTE!” the church…

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Never Give Up

My dear friend and fellow boricua Darlene Vazquetelles breaks it down and pays tribute to my amazing brother!

Darlene Vazquetelles


So many times in life we get discouraged by external factors. My family does not have the resources or the contacts. I am too fat. I am too skinny. I am too tall. I am too short. I am not as pretty as her. I am not as built as him. The reality is that the opportunities in life are endless and there is room for every color, shape or situation.

When I decided to pursue a career in what had been my hobby for so many years, I knew that the road would be difficult. Deciding to move to Los Angeles and pursue acting was far away from my comfort. Still, even when there were no Actors, Singers, Artists, Producers, Directors, Writers, Investors, etc… in my family, no one to help me cut the line, I knew I wanted to go and chase that urge, that passion.  I left…

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Last night during the final round of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” my brother Fernando Varela made me cry.

His emotions after FORTE’s spectacular rendition of “Caruso” were real and loving, and my tears for him were tears of joy and relief. You see, I know that Fernando has busted his tail for over 16 years and now he,  Josh Page, and Sean Pannikar are on the cusp of having their lives change forever.

CREDIT: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

CREDIT: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

That is my brother. Soaking in the moment, but still taking the time to remind us that this is all about dedication and (surprise, surprise) hard work.

Yesterday my brother’s Twitter was extremely active. So was FORTE’s. They got a lot of love from all over the world, but this is the one tweet that said it all for me:

The “boys” left it all on the floor last night. They are already winners. The ride has been a fantastic one. This is the only the beginning.

This is the NBC AGT YouTube video that was posted last night.

This is the full performance video where my brother said it all at the end.

Yes, people, there are still good stories out there.

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

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This is happening.

Tonight. AGT Finale. Vote here after 10:55 EST. Also you can tweet a vote with “#VoteAgt Forte.”

FORTE with Josh Page, Sean Pannikar and my brother Fernando Varela. Let’s do this!

FORTE in #AGTFinale: Don't Forget to Vote Tonight!

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