Diego Val's crooning on the current season of NBC's The Voice is getting major buzz. During his rendition of "Animal" by Neon Trees last month, he shifted to singing in Spanish toward the end. "I'm 100% Peruvian and I wanted to represent my roots," Val says. "My manager and I came up with the idea of putting a bridge in Spanish to see if people would react to that."
The Spanish serenade definitely got a reaction out of celebrity judge Cee Lo Green. He was the only judge to turn around during Val's blind audition. Once Val was on 'Team Cee Lo' he had to battle YouTube sensation JR Aquino. Beside the average stress you'd feel battling another talented singer in front of A-list judges like Christina Aguilera on national TV for everyone to see… imagine if your opponent is also your roommate.
"I was living with him for two months and we became great friends. Then we find out that we're going against each other. That made it intense. I've never battled before." Cee Lo chose Val as the victor of the joint performance of "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield. So that's where Diego is now, hoping to advance in the coming episodes.
A 26-year-old Peruvian native, Val grew up in Lima until he was about 14, bodyboarding and listening to reggae bands such as Chile's Gondwana. Although this past year he's been mostly dividing his time between LA and New York, Val calls Miami his home.
And after meeting him in Miami's graffiti-haven of Wynwood, I couldn't picture him anywhere else. If you can't pick up the surfer/skater vibe from his voice immediately, then the skateboard attached to his hand is a dead giveaway. He dropped a few "bro's" and "the thing is that's" that gave away his "Sh*! Miami People Say" accent.
Val recently went back to Peru for the first time in nine years to star as a lawyer on a Peruvian soap opera called "La Tayson, Corazón Rebelde." "I didn't even know I had a main role until I got to Peru," he says. Val, who still loves to surf, was eager to return to his home country. "I took the offer because it was an opportunity to go to Lima and spend time with my grandparents and see my friends that I hadn't seen in nine years." But what about the telenovela lawyer gig? "It was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life. I was working Monday through Saturday and busting my butt," he says.
Acting aside, Val's main focus continues to be writing and performing music. "We have some great music we've been working on. Everything has been happening very fast," he says. "Andrés, my manager and I, have been working on this for four or five years now. But like everything you do, it takes time and effort." But first things first. Val is waiting to see how far he can get on 'The Voice' before he shares his music with the world.