“So let go, go, go of the past now. Say hello to the light in your eyes. Yes, I know that the world’s spinning fast now, but you gotta run the race to win the prize.”
Daniel Dávila ’14 sang those bars from the song “Welcome to the ’60s” in “Hairspray,” before sitting down at a table and beginning to talk.
“I always thought this [interview] would be for sports, but now it’s for my singing,” Dávila said.
Dávila will play Link Larkin in the fall musical “Hairspray,” to be performed Nov. 8-10. Dávila has never been in an upper school musical nor an upper school choral group. He has spent his entire school career playing baseball as a center-fielder for a team that last year won the national championship. He came to the school to play baseball, attracted by the program and having played on a club team with Wolverine coaches for years.
“Last year, winning a national championship, it didn’t matter to me that I only got six at-bats, just because for me it was an awesome, awesome time,” Dávila said. “The team was also really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that was so close.”
This year he was accepted into the Chamber Singers and got the lead in the show. He doesn’t know whether he will continue to play baseball and has been given time off to be in the musical. He is, however, still on the roster despite not attending practice since the start of the year.
“I’m not 100 percent sure; it just kind of depends on how everything plays out, whether I go back to baseball,” Dávila said. “Ideally I would like to go back to baseball because, when you’ve been playing since you were 2, you really want to finish that last year. Committing all that time to my team, to my coach, to my friends, I just kind of feel like I owe it to them and to myself. Even if I don’t end up playing because I haven’t been there, I just kind of feel like I should finish it off.”
Dávila does not plan to play baseball in college. Rather, he intends to pursue singing as a career and worked towards that goal this summer. At Grammy Camp, a music industry summer camp where he studied singing and music management, Dávila was offered the chance to pursue that career when he was invited to audition with the producers of “The Voice.”
“I didn’t necessarily think anything of it, just because I had only decided that I wanted to be a singer months before,” Dávila said. “I had just my first voice lesson maybe three or four months before. It was so new to me that I just wanted to familiarize myself with the audition process within the industry.”
After singing three songs, Dávila moved on to an interview process and then went home, convinced that the experience was over. He then received a call that he had made it into the final round, which only accepts 180 out of the original 65,000.
“I was lucky because I got to be with my mom the whole time so I wasn’t alone,” Dávila said. “When you’re in a room with so many incredibly talented singers you know there’s something more than just your voice. I don’t get nervous in those situations just because you know who you’re up against, and worse comes to worst, you don’t make it.”
Four days before his “Hairspray” audition, Dávila got a call that he had moved on to the Blind Auditions, which are televised. In order to perform on “The Voice,” he would have had to miss a month for school and three more if he moved on from the initial round.
“Given that I would have had to miss so much school and that I was given the opportunity to be one of the leads in one of my favorite musicals, it was kind of a no-brainer for me,” Dávila said. “I don’t regret it at all. It was pretty reassuring to me just because I’m so new to singing, especially going out for auditions. So just the fact that I made it there wasn’t really daunting but rather just really, really exciting.”
Dávila hopes that this audition was only the first in a long career as a musician, a singer and a guitar player. He started playing guitar when he was 7 before quitting because he didn’t like his music teacher. He picked it up again five years ago when his younger brother wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He now plays electric and acoustic guitar and sees it as connected to his musical career.
“It’s always important that you be a musician and not just a singer,” Dávila said. “I want to be able to do other stuff. It really ties into my style of singing.”
Dávila said he has decided to apply to a few music colleges as well as regular schools, and his decision will depend on many factors.
“If I learned anything at camp and through the past couple months, it’s that everyone has a different story of how they made it in the industry,” Dávila said. “You just have to look for opportunities and not worry about where they are going to take you but just hope they take you in a good direction.”
As for the rest of this year, Dávila is still uncertain.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with baseball, I don’t know what’s going to happen with music,” Dávila said. “All I know now is that I have the lead in the musical.”
**Additional reporting by Mazelle Etessami