Padilla appeared on the popular talent search show when it recently conducted auditions in Houston. She delivered an emotional rendition of "O mio babbino caro" from the opera "Gianni Schichi" by Puccini. The performance drew a standing ovation and praise from judges David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan.
Padilla received a master's degree in vocal performance from UH's Moores School of Music (MSM) in 2004. As a student, she performed in several Moores Opera Center productions including the lead in Mozart's "Lafinta giardiniera" and a role in the Moores Opera Center's commercial recording of Dominick Argento's "Casanova's Homecoming."
"You have great character," Morgan told her. "You have great spirit and determination, and I think you can go a long way in this competition."
As a UH student, Padilla also earned top honors at the National Association of Teachers Singing competition in the advanced adults category in 2001. She also delivered a rendition of the national anthem before a sold-out crowd at a U.S.-Mexico soccer game in Reliant Stadium.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Padilla made her way to Houston for treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She had been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy at the center. During this time, it was feared she might not sing again.
She put to rest any doubts that her musical career was in jeopardy after a successful audition with MSM. She earned a scholarship and began a challenging, yet inspiring, artistic journey at UH.
"When she first came to UH she had been undergoing chemo at M.D. Anderson.," said Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera Center. "Keeping her strength up for the physical demands of singing was challenging, but she always showed a lot of promise. She has always had extraordinary heart and passion in the way she performed. I'm very thrilled for her and proud of her success."
Padilla will travel to Las Vegas for the next round of the competition. For details on this show and to view Padilla's performance, visit the "America's Got Talent" Web site at http://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/.
"I was sick for five years, and now, I'm in remission," she said following her performance. "And now, I'm here. What a dream! When you have hope, you keep going."
To learn more about Padilla, visit her Web site www.barbarapadilla.com.