Darren Lyndon Gonzales Espanto is a Canadian-Filipino singer, songwriter, television personality and actor who first became known to Filipino audiences as a contestant in “The Voice Kids Philippines” Season 1 in 2014. He may not have won the competition, taking the runner-up position, but his outstanding talent was not to be denied.
Espanto boasts of career highlights that older, more seasoned artists can only aspire for, namely double-platinum albums, over a hundred million streams of his songs on music streaming sites and YouTube videos of his performances that have earned well over 250 million views. Here are 13 more things about him:
- He was born in Calgary, Canada on May 24, 2001 to Lyndon Espanto and Marinel Gonzales, who are both Filipino registered nurses who emigrated to Canada from Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines.
- He attended St. Jude Elementary in Calgary.
- In 2011, he won the Masters Finals of the “Pinoy Singing Sensation” competition in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was his first singing competition.
- In 2012, he joined the YTV reality television contest “The Next Star.” He was the youngest finalist in the history of the show to be included in the Top 6.
- On June 1, 2014, he became a part of ABS-CBN’s Star Magic.
- From 2014 to 2020, he did close to 20 major concerts in the Philippines, Canada, the United States, Middle East, and Australia, showing off his versatility by singing in different genres as well as demonstrating his vocal power and stamina with exciting song and dance numbers.
- He has received close to 70 music awards and recognitions from various award-giving bodies in the Philippines.
- As the youngest member of the main cast of the Philippines’ top weekly musical variety show “ASAP Natin ‘To,” he is ranked alongside the country’s veteran and well-established performers.
- He holds the record for being the youngest artist, at age 14, to stage a sold-out solo concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- He sang for Pope Francis and millions of Filipinos during the 2015 Papal Visit, he performed for presidents and dignitaries during the APEC and ASEAN Summits and he has headlined a gala night in Carnegie Hall, all before his 18th birthday.
- In April 2020, he was appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines as its first and youngest ce-lebrity advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. Recognizing young people’s potential as agents of change, the UNDP has enlisted his voluntary services and support to promote its youth-focused development programs primarily through his influential social media presence. He shares UNDP’s commitment to making the planet a better place for humanity.
- With his influence among his audiences, particularly his staunch and faithful fandom known as the Darrenatics, he realizes and understands that he can use his fame and celebrity to raise awareness and mobilize support to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals in the Philippines.
- In the six months since he was appointed UNDP Youth Advocate, he has already taken on numerous projects that have seen exemplary results in terms of social media engagement. As a result, he has already been tapped twice by UNDP Headquarters in New York, USA to lend his voice to their Mission1.5/Climate Action program.