Ten-year-old Angie Vazquez has become an Internet phenom belting out a soulful cover of Brit pop star Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." In an online video seemingly shot at home, her teenage brothers Abelardo and Gustavo play the keyboard, guitar and drums.
The video drew almost 18 million views, interviews on Mexico's major television networks and a mention on Good Morning America. Within weeks of its Nov. 11 posting, the so-called Vazquez Sounds signed a contract with Sony Music Mexico. They released their first album this week that includes another Internet smash cover, of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You."
Their nearly overnight success online evokes the now legendary saga of Canadian 'tween idol Justin Bieber, who was discovered after his mother posted online amateur footage of him crooning and strumming.
"We make a lot of videos of a lot of things, but my son Abelardo wanted to record this song and share it with friends and family," said father Abelardo Vazquez in a telephone interview from the family's hometown of Mexicali, on the California border. "We really didn't expect the cover to become such a phenomenon on the Web."
Before you call the Vazquez clan Mexico's version of Bieber-mania, consider this: The elder Abelardo Vazquez is a professional music producer instrumental in creating the sound of well-known Mexican bands such as Reik and Nikki Clan, also from the border.
The videos of Angie and her brothers in their home studio are also professionally produced, mixed and lighted, with slick camera work.
Abelardo Vazquez says he's not driving his kids into the music business, though he acknowledges they've had a leg up.
"My kids have had a musical education since they were very young, because I have worked producing groups for many years," the father said.
When the video sparked interest in a few million people beyond the Vazquez's immediate circle, the decision to cut a CD was natural, Vazquez said.
He added that he retains total control over the project, and Sony music is working as a distributor.
"The contract with Sony isn't the traditional type," Vazquez said. "It isn't the typical contract with record companies, in which they used to control the artists' career. This is a family project."
Although Vazquez has had an eight-year relationship with Sony, Roberto Lopez, president of the label, said he and his team were unaware of the Vazquez Sounds and first heard the group like everyone else — on the Internet.
Working with such a young group poses special challenges and "very strong personal care," Lopez said.
"It is something special because they are children, and we want them to stay in school," he said. "The agreement was that their involvement in music, which has been going on for years now, would continue without affecting their lifestyle."
Vazquez said other record companies had expressed interest, but Sony was the only one that met his conditions for the kids. Cynics note that Sony is also the label that signed some of Vazquez's other acts.
The CD includes the original cover of "Rolling in the Deep," a remix of that crowd pleaser and, at least in its online version, a more wobbly cover of the Mariah Carey song. Coincidentally, it's the same song Bieber included in his holiday season "Under the Mistletoe" disc.
In the meantime, the Vazquez Sounds have been invited to perform on television programs in the United States, Italy and England.
But they can pick and choose.
"The kids are not obligated to do promotional work like other acts," said the elder Vazquez. "We want them to live a life like any other child their age."