By: Fredwill Hernandez
While some Regional Mexican singers are known for singing corridos [folk tales or stories] about, [but not necessarily condoning] the narco culture, Neto Bernal, the twenty one year old singer/songwriter or the newest artist addition to the Fonovisa roster, the Regional Mexican [Music Record Label] powerhouse under the Universal Music Latin Entertainment umbrella, is more concerned about singing [positive] songs that among other topics include love, [some considered classics in my opinion] by such singer/songwriter[s] as Juan Gabriel, Marco Antonio Solis, Rigo Tovar, and [even] José Alfredo Jiménez.
“Ever since I was five years old I would compete in any singing competition, and even though I “would never win,” I never gave up, I always took each opportunity [to sing] as a learning experience to better myself, to hone my stage presence and singing chops. At eleven years old, I finally won my first singing competition, and that win gave me more inspiration, drive, and confidence,” eloquently explained Bernal, who hails from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, and who is currently promoting his [Fonovisa] debut album titled “Con Una Sonrisa” [Spanish for “With A Smile”]. “At the advice of my vocal coach, due to voice changing at age fifteen I took about a year and a half off so I could rest my vocal chords. My current manager who is [a big] part of all my success came into my life when I was [about] sixteen years old. He had initially contacted my father explaining his desire and interest in working with me, but at the time I was not interested due to a bad experience I had had with a previous [artist] manager who promised things that never materialized. Not really being too fond of school, I thought about what I really like doing and had a passion for, and “that is singing,” so I thought that I needed to really focus and put all my energy into it, and that’s eventually what I did.”
Bernal who [also] penned four of the twelve songs on “Con Una Sonrisa,” also explained the sacrifices he’s had to make, how he eventually decided to contact his manager after initially not wanting to work with him, and how all his effort and hard work [even learning how to play guitar] has paid off, “A little over a year after not wanting to initially work with my current manager Gabriel Alcocer, I contacted him through Facebook and asked him if there was a possibility that we can [still] work together ?, He responded by letting me know that we had to [personally] speak, and asked if I’d be willing to come to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, since I live and grew up in Mexicali, [B.C.]. So, I went to Reynosa for like two weeks [initially] and during my time there he recorded a few [raw] cellphone videos of me singing, one in which I was singing “Paloma Negra” a song made popular by [Ranchera] singer Lola Béltan, which he uploaded to another artist page he was working with and within two hours the video had over 600 views, likes, and it was being shared, so he immediately thought he needed to make me my own artist page, and everything just grew from there.”
“Once I noticed things were taking off, I contact Ernesto, and explained that I felt “Neto” sounded more [to me] like a [short but cool] artist name, he [Bernal] agreed, and I quickly began his artist page and social media presence. He eventually moved to Reynosa [and stayed with me] where I live and I started to work with him, I had him work with a vocal coach for him to [learn and] fix a few minor things I felt he could improve in. Backtracking on how I found him though, I had an idea of looking for a young singer with a powerful voice, so I was online [initially] looking for another young singer [also] from Mexicali and I [accidently] ran into a video of [Neto] Bernal performing, and I saw him holding the mic away [from his mouth] in front of him like [powerful great] singers like Juan Gabriel [use to] or Vicente Fernandez does, I also noticed the video was two years old, so I eventually [researched and eventually found and] contacted Neto’s father since I really wanted to see and hear how he sounded, how much his voice had improved in two years. Even though he did not initially want to work with me, he eventually came through at his own accord, so I knew that ones we [both] started to work and concentrate on each other’s [same] goals, we would succeed. As to how I brought Neto to Fonovisa’s attention, we attended the Monitor Latino convention in 2016, and I was at the bar of the hotel speaking with a fellow colleague of mine named Juan Moreno, promoter who handles [radio for and in] the Regional Mexican realm for Universal Music Latin Entertainment. So, I introduced Neto to [Juan] Moreno, then asked him to go up to the room and warm your voice up, and when you feel you are ready come back down to the bar, since I want you to sing “Paloma Negra” a cappella. He left, and returned ready to sing, then he sang a couple of songs and everyone there including Moreno liked his singing. Moreno, asked me what I needed for [Neto] Bernal ?, so I replied: an investor, so that’s when he suggested I send him five of Neto’s most viewed videos so he can present [Neto] Bernal to [his] upper executives at Universal. By August 2017, we were signing our deal with Fonovisa, but by then we had a few other videos we had uploaded, some of which had five hundred thousand views, etc…all organically,” expressed Bernal’s manager [Gabriel] Alcocer, who coincidently also handles radio promotion in the Central Zone [of the U.S.] for singer/songwriter Marco Antonio Solis, a Fonovisa recording artist and who Bernal considers one of his musical Idols and favorite [Mexican] singer/songwriters.