All high school and college students struggle to juggle their busy schedules between schoolwork, free time and extracurriculars. How about being a student, singer, dancer and rising social media sensation with 116,000 followers? Meet Isabella (Isa) Peña, a trilingual 17-year-old from Miami, Florida, with a story and voice that is sure to leave you speechless.
Some might have heard her belting out a song on her Instagram or performing The Star-Spangled Banner at one of Miami’s sports games. Peña was singing The Star-Spangled Banner at her hometown Fourth of July parade when someone from the University of Miami in attendance asked her if she would be interested in singing at the university’s basketball and baseball games. After performing, other representatives reached out and asked her to perform for the Miami Marlins (MLB) and the Miami Heat (NBA). Her largest crowd was a total of 75,000 people at a NFL Miami Dolphins game. “The coolest people (that I know of) that were in the audience were JLo and A-Rod when I sang for the Hurricanes just last month!” Peña told Fresh U. Besides her performances at sports games, she was also a finalist on “La Voz Kids” on Telemundo, which she described as “the Spanish version of The Voice.” She also has won a few local singing competitions in Miami.
The majority of Peña’s supporters discovered her from her Instagram account dedicated to her singing. Since its inception in December of 2015, she has amassed more than 116,000 followers. She started off posting videos twice a week and began getting followers when other singing accounts would re-post her videos. Over time, larger singing accounts noticed her and would re-post her content, causing her to gain even more followers. Despite her growing follower counts on social media, Peña believes that at the end of the day, it is all about engaging with her followers. “I try to post things that my followers will enjoy. I love to interact with them daily,” Peña said. “I try to answer all of their DMs and have conversations with them to get to know them and what they like!” She is grateful that her singing account has connected her with different people and performance opportunities.
Peña has been singing since she joined a local theater company in her community when she was only 5 years old, and claims to have fallen in love with it immediately. Since she started, she has performed in about 60 musicals in total. In her free time, she enjoys writing her own original music and recording covers of popular songs. “I love to make other people’s songs my own and change things up a bit,” Peña said. “I recently did a cover of Jason Derulo's "Trumpets" and made it a ballad. He actually saw it and commented on my Instagram page that he loved it, so that was cool.”
Peña was also ecstatic when she learned that her cover of “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” was chosen to be part of the show’s fan video for the movie, part of which was shown at the Oscars this year.
Peña is also passionate about her trilingualism, speaking English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. “I absolutely love languages!” Peña told Fresh U. “I think it's so important to connect with people in their languages if you can. Every time I write a song, I try and write it in both English and Spanish.” She is also working on translating songs to Chinese, as well.
All of this publicity is happening while Peña is only a junior in high school. She works to find a balance between studying for school, preparing for college, vocal lessons, volunteering and participating in two musicals. She encourages other busy student artists to make a list at the beginning of the week with extracurriculars, meetings, papers, assignments and then follow it. She also recommends taking one night out of the week, usually a Friday or Saturday, for social activities. “Even if I’m in a show that night, I'll go out and have pizza or just hang out with friends for an hour afterwards,” Peña said. “It's important to keep balanced.” Peña explained how she records her Instagram videos on the weekends, so she always plans them out in advance. “I also take my voice and acting lessons on weekends and volunteer at the local Children's Hospital and sing to the kids who are hospitalized.” Her volunteering has a personal connection. A few years ago, she was hospitalized for four weeks with sepsis. The bacteria had an 80% mortality rate. She had multiple chest tubes and even a tube that drained fluid from her heart. While she was unable to move in the ICU, volunteers would come in and sing to her. “It meant so much,” Peña said. “I wanted to do the same for others, so I’ve been doing it ever since and I love it.”
When asked about her future goals, Peña wishes to go to university to study entertainment law and music production. “The more knowledge an artist has about the workings of the music industry is key,” Peña said. She hopes to both perform on stage and be involved in the process of writing and producing original music. Peña looks forward to traveling to Nashville, Tennessee more frequently as she is working with some people involved with songwriting and production. “I can't wait to see what the future will bring for me but right now I'm just enjoying the moment!”
Follow Isa on all of her social media to stay updated with her music.
Youtube: Isa Peña
Facebook: Isa Peña (@isapenaofficial)
Lead Image Credit: Louis O'Neill