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Meet Idol NV’s 2024 winner: Andrea Barrera

Two years ago, Andrea Barrera was a student musician in El Salvador performing in the Festival de Verano (Festival of Summer) in San Fernando, Morazán. Today, she reigns as the winner of Idol NV...

Andrea Barrera performs the electropop hit, “Dance Monkey” at Idol NV singing competition in January. | Mitchell Glotzer photo 

Two years ago, Andrea Barrera was a student musician in El Salvador performing in the Festival de Verano (Festival of Summer) in San Fernando, Morazán. Today, she reigns as the winner of Idol NV, the Napa County singing competition for young up-and-upcoming artists. 

For Barrera, everything has changed since moving to Napa from El Salvador in 2021: Language, school, home, friends, community and culture, but her love for singing remains a constant.

Barrera, 16, was born and raised in San Miguel, El Salvador, to musician parents who played the guitar and sang in a group named Sangre de Guerra (Blood of War). “The name of the group came to be because there was a civil war in the country,” Barrera said in Spanish. “They made music that represented the hope of the town and that inspired me, although I did not fully grasp the political meaning music can have.” 

Now, the singer, pianist, guitarist and ukulele player has brought her inspiration from El Salvador to Napa. 

In March 2021, Barrera says, her family moved to Napa in “pursuit of a better life and for musical opportunities” in hopes that she could eventually build a career around music. 

“Initially, it was really hard to adapt here,” Barrera said. “Everything changed from one day to the next, but as I meet more people and discover new places, I’m really starting to like living here.” 

For the high school sophomore, landing in the Napa music scene was bound to happen. Barrera was a freshman when she was recruited to join the school choir. 

“I was singing in the restroom, and a teacher said, ‘You, you, you have to be in the school choir,” Barrera reminisced. She wasn’t aware of the school’s music programs at the time but decided to give it a shot. “At first, I thought the choir was a bit boring because I did not resonate with the songs but that changed as I got exposed to more music. Now, I plan on being a part of the choir until I graduate.”

Influenced by her parent’s fluid musical styles, Barrera says she wants to be a professional singer and songwriter who maneuvers through various styles and languages. “I want to dabble in different genres because when I listen to an artist, I like to know that they can change it up. Sometimes, listening to an artist sing in the same modes can become boring,” she said. 

For her Idol NV audition and performances, Barrera did just that: She sang the traditional Latin song “La Llorona” at the semi-finals and the electropop hit “Dance Monkey” at finals, all while only having learned English in August 2021. 

She won first place. 

“They announced what sounded like my name, but because they sometimes mess up the pronunciation of my name, I questioned, ‘is it really me?’ as I stood on the stage next to other finalists.” 

Barrera was, indeed, the winner, taking home $1,000 and two BottleRock tickets. 

“I was happy but disappointed because I knew I could have done better. I was like, ‘Thank you, but I think someone else deserved this,’” she reflected. “The other finalists were amazing. They deserve their flowers.” 

Competing against teens who had paid pianists, vocal coaches and backgrounds in theater, Barrera relied on the singing skills she acquired while growing up in El Salvador. Her mom served as her coach in preparation for the Idol NV finals. “I practiced alone but my mom would tell me to fix my pitch when she heard me sing. She doesn’t speak English but because she used to sing, she just knows,” Barrera said,  proving that mothers, in fact, do know best (most of the time). 

For now, Barrera plans on using some of the money she won at finals for a class field trip where she will visit numerous universities alongside her classmates. As for BottleRock, she is most excited to see Mexican Rock Band Maná which is headlining the festival in May.

Barrera shared that aside from being a full-time student, she is currently in the process of recording her debut album. She intends to release it later this year with hopes that it will catapult her career as a singer and composer.

Mariela Gomez is staff writer for Napa Life Extra. Contact her at mariela@highway29.com.

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