Paola Guanche Nuviola is no stranger to the stage. Her father, Orlando Guanche, is a well-known Cuban musician. So is her mother – singer Lourdes Nuviola. Her aunt is Aymee Nuviola, a Grammy-nominated singer who can belt out a soft tune or a spirited guaracha with equal ease on stages around the world.
So three years ago, when Paola passed the 13-week audition process for Telemundo’s “La Voz Kids” talent show (a Spanish version of “The Voice”), the 13-year-old was not as nervous as many expected. Six-thousand children auditioned for that show. Paola was one of the six finalists.
The judges declared her the winner after hearing the ease with which she sang “I Will Always Love You,” the song made famous by Whitney Houston (watch it here on YouTube). The audience’s standing ovation was deafening. Special guest performer Ricky Martin was beside himself, praising the young singer’s talent. Paola had arrived.
“It was a great moment for me,” says Paola, who is now 15. “I wanted to prove to my family that I was also an artist, just like them and that was the moment that proved it.”
Paola was born in Mexico. Her parents left Cuba during the so-called Special Period, at the height of scarcities on the communist island after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her father says he wanted to have children in a country with freedom — “LI-BER-TAD!”
So, when the couple had an opportunity to leave the island, they did. That was in 1996.
Last Saturday morning, May 7, Guanche drove Paola to the USCIS Miami Field Office to receive a Certificate of Citizenship. Both were excited and nervous, but feeling very accomplished. Famous aunt Aymee met them there. She too had become a U.S. citizen a few years ago and understood the significance of this moment.
“This means so much to me,” Paola said minutes before the ceremony began. “This is the country that has allowed my family to be free, to be together, to pursue our art.” Then she added, “In this country my family can choose, can be together, grow, seize opportunities, many take those things for granted.”