It’s a “how I spent my summer vacation” story few Calgary kids can top.
Home after a nine-month whirlwind tour promoting his smash debut album, 14-year-old singer Darren Espanto is enjoying some rare downtime ahead of early-October hometown concerts in Calgary and Edmonton.
“It’s really nice to be back,” he said. “I’ve been relaxing, catching up with my family and my friends — it’s so nice to be back in my home town.”
The former St. Cyril school student’s rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric.
Entering the spotlight last June as a contestant and eventual first runner-up on The Voice Philippines, the unassuming, handsome Calgary-born teen quickly became a world-wide sensation.
Dubbed “The Total Performer” by the Voice judges, seemingly anything Espanto touches these days turns to gold.
Or platinum, in the case of his best-selling album.
Released shortly after performing for Pope Francis during the pontiff’s January visit to the Philippines, his self-titled debut album received world-wide acclaim.
Most recently, an impromptu performance covering Sia’s hit Chandelier during an interview at a Manila radio station has, in less than two months, garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.
When he’s not on stage or buried in studies, he’s hard at work on his second album, which is giving him a chance to finally show of his songwriting chops.
Espanto’s visit home isn’t all play and no work, however.
His hometown “mini-tour” kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 3 for a show at Edmonton’s Radisson Convention Centre, followed by a stop at Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall the next night.
He’ll be joined on stage by Thor, a Filipino singer considered equal parts mentor and brother — and somebody Darren can’t wait to show around Calgary.
“I’ll definitely bring him downtown, we’ll go on road trips — maybe even out to Banff,” he said.
Almost as soon as the curtain falls in Calgary, Espanto will be back on a plane to the Philippines to kick off a four-month long road tour.
But for now, he’s prepared to just put it all aside and enjoy being a kid in Calgary.
“It’s been very humbling,” he said. “I’d say I’m pretty blessed.”