Local to take talent to 'Voice' (w/ video)
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GOLIAD - A northern wind swept back Luis Hernandez' hair as he shyly strummed the strings of his guitar and harmonized with an ear piece playing "Be Like That" by 3 Doors Down.
Standing and singing in the nature of Goliad County, it's hard to imagine the small-town aspiring singer going national, but that's just what he did days ago when his audition aired on "American Idol."
After surviving four rounds, Hernandez was able to meet and perform for the judges - Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban - but his amateur singing was not enough to make the cut in round five.
But Goliad men don't give up, said Hernandez, who, later this week, will stand up again at the mic, this time for NBC's "The Voice."
"I'm going to continue to try this," he said. "If nothing else, I'm going to find my calling - whether it's as a singer, songwriter or personality."
Hernandez, who works on his ranch with his family, has been singing nonprofessionally all his life, he said, performing in talent shows and community functions.
He's always believed he was a good singer and actually had never watched "American Idol." Then one day, he realized he had a chance, too.
Traveling to Austin, he was able to impress the producers enough to have him go through. Hernandez admits it may not have been because of his voice but because of his loud personality.
On his final round, he performed Edwin McCain's "I'll Be." He started off the song pulling out glow sticks and throwing off his jacket.
The judges were caught cringing a little at his performance but saw that he was legitimately trying.
Hernandez said it was not his best, but since that audition, which happened five months ago, he has tried to make his voice stronger.
He has started enhancing his vocal range by performing anything from rock to country to R&B.
"I want to be able to touch people with the written word," he said. "To have just one person in the world enjoy it, well, that's enough for me."
Ida Hernandez, Hernandez's mother, said her son was excited to have made it through several rounds and has it in his heart to become a singer.
"It was a lot of fun for him; it was a different experience," she said.
In regards to him going to Nashville for "The Voice" audition, she's in full support, she said.
"I say go for it," she said. "If he keeps trying, he'll one day get there. He's determined."
Brooke Woods, a friend of Hernandez who works at Shooters Bar in Victoria, has listened to him perform and is excited that he wants to go far.
"He is definitely one of the most entertaining people I know," she said. "He has wonderful stage presence. He just gets up there and gives it all he's got, and he really puts his whole heart into every song that he sings."
What Hernandez plans to bring to Nashville is the real him. On "American Idol," he made his country twang a little thicker because producers asked him to play up the South Texas cowboy persona, he said.
This won't be the case in early February.
He's already prepared two songs to perform for his audition, though he is keeping the lyrics and names of the songs secret for now.
"It's a musician's superstition," he said, adding that what he truly wants is for his voice to be heard. "You can keep the fame and fortune. When I see someone enjoying my music, that's my gratification, that's my reward, that's my natural high."