After weeks of soulful performances, Antonel, the laid-back lead singer for the Coronado-based band Velvet Café beat out hundreds of contestants to earn $10,000 and a chance to audition for record-label executives in Hollywood in April.
The 30-year-old administrator at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park has been singing her entire life, inspired by musical influences like Otis Redding, Fleet Foxes, The Platters, Andrew Bird and Tori Amos.
“Singing in high school productions at PLHS was an important step for me. I sang at the Coffeehouse variety shows as well as the Zeiger show in 2001,” she said. “These were my first experiences singing publicly, and I realized then that I had a talent that people enjoyed.”
After high school, Antonel’s singing — at least in a public capacity — fell by the wayside for several years until resurfacing again in 2010, when she became the vocalist for electro-folk band Camanchaca in Buenos Aires. When she returned home, Antonel took the helm as the lead singer of Velvet Café, a multi-genre acoustic cover band featuring jazz, country and blues renditions that cross generations — and even languages.
“Vocally, I guess I have sort of a bluesy, vintage torch-song flavor, although my style is, above all else, eclectic,” she said. “I sing everything from jazz to blues to pop to country to Latin rock with my band. I’m a classically trained pianist, so that informs my own compositions.”
While the talented vocalist enjoys singing covers and dreams of recording an assorted, jazz-influenced cover album, she has also been creating a set of her own indie-variety compositions, — a dream that is nearing reality thanks to the head start she earned through her “3 Minute to Stardom” win.
“Ultimately, bringing my own material to life would be more fulfilling,” she said. “I hope to make the most of my audition with the record-label execs, but however that goes, I intend to gig frequently throughout San Diego and put a lot of time and money into recording and producing my own songs.”
With her cash winnings, Antonel said she is enjoying paying back the fans who supported her throughout the competition, planning a celebratory trip to Europe in May and recording her demo.
“Right now, I’m having fun buying drinks for all the people that supported me and voted me through on the first round: Velvet Café fans and friends and family — many of whom drove all the way out to the Valley View Casino four times to see me perform,” she said. “More importantly, I’m going to use the money to record my demo.”
In the meantime, look for Antonel around San Diego singing with Velvet Café at Coronado-based venues like the Boathouse or Coronado Cays Yacht Club, catching up with friends over a well-deserved drink at Tiny’s in Ocean Beach or catch her hard at work in Balboa Park. Regardless of where you catch the hometown celebrity in San Diego, expect to see much more from the talented young woman in the years to come.