The Windermere resident discovered her opera voice two years ago and hasn’t stopped singing since
Zayonara Morales-Hale never knew she could sing opera until two years ago.
She was at home watching “America’s Got Talent” on TV when she gave it a try. Her husband came rushing downstairs, thinking he was missing out one of the show’s performances. Then, he realized it was his wife who was singing.
“He came down and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you sang opera,’” said Morales-Hale, who lives in Windermere. “But I didn’t know I had that voice in me.”
Ever since she was a young girl, Morales-Hale loved to sing. She sang in choirs at school, but never had any formal vocal training. It was always just something she did for fun.
Now she’s trying to make it a career.
She’s tried out for “America’s Got Talent” several times during the last two years, but never made it past the auditions. Then on the radio one morning, she heard about a Spanish talent show called “Tengo Talento Mucho Talento” and decided to give it a try.
When she got a phone call after her audition that she had made it, she could hardly believe it, she said. She was flown out to Los Angeles for the show, and made it through several rounds before getting eliminated just before the semifinals.
“I didn’t make it (to the semifinals), but the experience was awesome,” she said.
Although Morales-Hale still dreams of making it onto “America’s Got Talent,” she loves to share her operatic talents with anyone who will listen.
“You tell me to sing and I’ll open my mouth and sing for you,” she said.
She’s been known to break out in song at Publix, in restaurants and even once at Disney Springs.
“It takes a certain kind of person to do that - get up and sing in front of people,” said her husband, Rob Hale.
But as a mother of two who works full time at a bank, Morales-Hale said that finding time to practice singing is a challenge.
“I get in my studio time while driving my girls to school in the morning and driving to work,” she said. “That’s my studio - my car.”
She’s performed at events in Windermere, at her girls’ school, at Bella Tuscany Italian Restaurant and several assisted-living facilities.
“I want to give of my talents,” Morales-Hale said. “I love to see people smile.”
But her pursuit of her newfound talents isn’t without its challenges, and she’s already faced rejection several times over.
At 47, she’s been told by many that she’s too old to break into a career as an opera singer. The criticism is hard to take, she said, but she’s too passionate about singing to quit.
“You’re not too old when you want to do something,” she said.
In addition to the critics, she has asthma. Some days, she can feel the tightness in her chest, but when she sings, she can always belt out the high notes no matter what, she said.
She always wears a bracelet on her left wrist that spells out “Songbird.” It’s the nickname that her co-workers gave her when they found out about her singing.
Morales-Hale sings in three languages - English, Spanish and Italian. English and Spanish were the easiest since she’s fluent in both languages. Italian was a bit trickier and required lots of assistance from Google Translate. When she’s preparing for a performance, she’s been known to memorize more than a dozen songs within two weeks.
“God has given me this gift,” she said.
But she said that she couldn’t have pursued her passion without the support of her parents, husband, daughters, family and friends.
“It’s hard, but I love it,” Morales-Hale said. “I always have that hope that one days I’ll be seen.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected]