MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Imagine pulling up to a McDonald’s and instead of hearing the usual “can I take your order?” you hear beautiful singing.
That’s exactly what happened to Roberta David when she pulled up to a drive thru in Miami back in 2014.
“As I was driving I heard this glorious singing,” David said. “I never heard anything like it ever before at any drive thru let alone McDonald’s. And then here was this lovely young man at the window. ‘Was that you?’ I was fascinated. I wanted to know more.”
What Roberta stumbled upon was a rare counter tenor serving her lunch that day.
Edgar Sanfeliz Botta was a Cuban immigrant who had been working at McDonald’s for about a year trying to make his way in America.
“I found myself struggling. How will I have a career? Because that’s what I would like,” Botta said. “I would like to do concerts, I would like to perform. I’d like to work in opera houses, do operas and so forth. I knew in Cuba it would be really hard for me. I knew the only way for me to learn those things and have all those opportunities was to leave the country.”
Botta’s unique voice was gaining popularity in Cuba.
He sang for Raul Castro on multiple occasions and once for Pope Benedict back in 2012. But in the U.S. he had to start over.
“I knew he had a talent I just had to learn more,” David said. “I just kept going back. The second time I laid eyes on him I asked him do you read music. Oh yes. He told me more of his story that he was a choral conductor.”
David, a choral director herself, took Edgar under her wing.
She found him churches to sing at and eventually, through a network of friends, got him a tryout at the FIU School of Music.
“I took him to many concerts, many different venues,” David said. “I took him to the first two operas he had ever seen in his life. He knew the various churches, where they had a good concert series, a pipe organ. So he knew what was available to him in this community.”
“This woman here has become my angel,” Bolla said. “But also like my grandmother, like my family. She says ‘I adopted you’ but I adopted her.”
“He’s my grandson now,” David responded.
While Bolla continues to work on his English he’s also teaching music classes at Conchita Espinosa Academy.
It’s not only a way to earn some money but a chance for this singer to pay it forward. Following the lead of his own mentor.
Edgar has just graduated from FIU and his family from Cuba was there to see him walk across the stage.
As was Roberta who was looking for a hug instead of a big mac.
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