Up on stage, singing his heart out, Raymond Salgado from Vancouver Island says the moment took years, but he has finally found his voice.
The 24-year-old from Nanaimo is set to compete in the finale of the Canada’s Got Talent competition next week. It’s a moment he has dreamed of and is still contemplating the journey it took to get here.
“It’s been quite the rush of emotions because first of all, I’m representing Vancouver Island and British Columbia and I’m the only one,” said Salgado. “I was so encouraged by so many peers and so many people who believed in me. This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Salgado has been immersed in music since he was a child and grew up with music influencing him at home. But he adds he faced a lot of adversity growing up on the mid-Island.
His parents immigrated to Canada before he was born, and as a Filipino-Canadian Salgado says he was underrepresented in his hometown and faced internal struggles with his identity.
“I was a very quiet person, and once I discovered that I had a talent and that this is something that I loved doing for myself, I found my voice through music,” said Salgado. “When I was still trying to figure out my identity at the time, it gave me a voice that I was trying to find for many years.
“With that, it gave me the validation and the self-love that I now have today and recognize for myself. When I go on stage and perform, I really try my best to zone into the music and everything in that moment of performing.”
Salgado says as a teenager, he had a lot of difficulties finding validation and fitting in along with having an identity crisis and figuring out his sexuality.
“At that time sexuality and being who you were was really talked about at that time yet,” said Salgado. “A lot of the time, I felt like I had to camouflage myself and to be like everybody else.”
Rejection has also been a challenge for Salgado throughout his life regarding his sexuality and being rejected from American Idol after auditioning in 2021.
However, his first teacher saw something in him after seeing him compete in a local competition. He worked with Andrea Bertram for over a decade, he began to develop his voice in local gigs and school musicals.
Advice from Boy George, telling him to keep working on his craft, boosted his confidence and led to his audition for Canada’s Got Talent. He says he learned through the process that taking the risk was worth it and would rather live a life without regrets.
For others, he encourages them not to be afraid of being afraid and take chances as they go through life.
“A lot of the time people are so afraid of speaking on that, especially those who have a career and are financially stable,” said Salgado. “I don’t want to be that person who didn’t take those risks and regret it years later.
“I’m glad that I had enough of the support group to support me and I know there are people who don’t have that, so I think it comes back to the person and just believing in themselves.”
He adds we only have one life to live, and we should experience and enjoy life in the present.
“I encourage those who have a dream to pursue it, especially when they have the opportunity.”
Salgado thanks everyone who has supported him along the way, Vancouver Island, the Filipino community and his hometown Nanaimo.
The finale will be held on Tuesday at 8 p.m. pacific with voting opportunities to decide the winner.