You don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate Pablo Lopez’s captivating performance on Mexico Tiene Talento, the country’s cut-and-paste version of Britain’s Got Talent, but you do to understand his equally inspiring backstory.
Lopez was born in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. At age 5, he wandered away from home and got to the city of Torreon. Lost and unable to return home, the Red Cross put him in an orphanage where American parents adopted him. But, he says, they sent him to Mexico City when they “got tired of him” as a teen; he lived homeless eight years. It was during this window that a friend gave him a tape recorder and he began to sing.
“Well there’s more money at the subway,” the 43-year-old career busker told the judges, explaining why he sings in public, “And more people see you at the subway and so you bring joy to more people.”
Seemingly out of nowhere, Lopez howls a gruff, soulful Bob Seger cover that literally brought one of the judges to tears.
“I don’t know who your parents are, but I’m very thankful to them for having you in this world,” director and judge Hector Martinez said.
“You’re spectacular brother,” singer and judge José Manuel Figueroa said.
The third judge, musician Ximena Sarinana, was moved to tears by the “beautiful art.”
Mexico has a long romance with rock music—it’s what the boomers in Mexico grooved to at adolescent dances. It was so popular that the country is littered with a lost history of early rock stars that made an almost Pat Boone-style living ripping off all of the pre-Beatles American icons, rewriting, for example, “Good Golly Miss Molly” in Spanish (Los Teen Tops’s “La Plaga.”)
But none of them sang like Lopez.