Carlito Olivero is one of the Top 12 contestants on the “X Factor.” (Photo/Courtesy Jeff Lipsky for FOX)

X Factor’s Carlito Olivero says “I’m so blessed” to make Top 12

“It’s overwhelming – it’s crazy that all these months have passed by. Honestly, it feels like a blur,” says “X Factor” contestant Carlito Olivero. The singer – who is half Puerto Rican and half Mexican – has made it through seemingly endless elimination rounds on the hit FOX competition and as a Top 12 contestant, says “I’m so blessed. God works in mysterious ways. I believe in him and in fate – and I know there was a reason I was put into this competition. It’s his will and I’m so excited.”

Olivero – a Chicago native – says that he’s in disbelief over his success on “The X Factor,” particularly as he nearly didn’t end up on the show.  That’s right: Olivero was signed up for the show by friends, who had tried to persuade him years prior that he could make his music dreams come true with help from “The X Factor.”

“My friends actually signed me up two years ago, but I didn’t want to do it,” confesses Olivero, who worked as a barista at a coffee shop in Los Angeles before competing on the show. “I was working to make it my way. I was writing, in the studio, shopping my stuff to labels. But the industry doesn’t work that way – and here we are, years later. My mom signed me up, my friends signed me up and my writing partner persuaded me that this was what I needed to do to take my career to the next level.”

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But signing up didn’t mean that Olivero was automatically assured a place in season three of show, with celebrity judges Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio and Simon Cowell.

“I didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket to Denver,” recalls Olivero.  “So I told the producers ‘I can’t make it, but if you have a spot for me in Los Angeles, I’ll take it.’ And it turned out they did – and here I am!”

Olivero performing on "The X Factor."

Olivero performing on “The X Factor.” (Photo/Credit Ray Mickshaw for 2013 FOX Broadcasting.)

As a member of judge Rubio’s team (“she’s a trip,” says Oliver), the 24-year-old has practiced his vocal skills, playing up his Latino heritage by singing song after song across Latin genres. Olivero – who calls Marc Anthony one of his musical inspirations – says it’s been important to represent his heritage on the show, explaining that he never though a Latino would have a chance on the competition.

“I had never seen a Latino on ‘X Factor’ so I thought ‘maybe they’re just not looking for one’” says Olivero. “I’m certainly not the first Latino whose tried to audition. So I told myself that if I made it through that first live audition, I would represent my Latinos. Nothing makes me prouder than representing my Latinos, my young people, the hard-working middle class people who work check to check. If I can do it, so can they.”

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Olivero – who says he’d choose tostones and Puerto Rican cuisine over a burrito any day – says he especially wants to inspire aspiring artists. After all Olivero has had his eyes set on a musical career for years, beginning when he was 17 and won a spot on the new Menudo on a 2007 MTV reality show.

“It was my schooling,” says Olivero, who had signed to Sony Epic as part of the group before the group fell a apart. “We toured for almost three years, and that experience taught me how to be a performer. It made me into the artist I am today. But when the group broke up, I learned a lot too – and that has only helped me now.”

Olivero – who has a younger sister and brother – says he’s still friendly with the other members of Menudo. And some of the habits he learned on stage during his Menudo days have stayed with him, including his pre-show routine.

“I have to have my cough drops and water bottle,” says Olivero of the moments leading up to his performances on the “X Factor” stage. “I’m always praying, even when I’m practicing choreography or warming up.”

And it seems like the prayers – and the cough drops – are working, as Olivero one is of 12 contestants who will rely on America’s votes to get through the next few rounds of the “X Factor.”

“We’re all so different in terms of performance and vocal ability,” says Olivero of the his competition. “So I think the competition is within ourselves to do what we can.”

That being said, Olivero does hope someone special is watching – Sofia Vergara, perhaps?

“I’m definitely a romantic,” says Olivero, who says he’s love to collaborate with artist Daddy Yankee one day. “I hope she’s watching, I’d love to take her out and talk business. And if not, someone like her would be amazing!”

And even if Vergara isn’t watching at home, Olivero says he’s just happy knowing his family is able to watch him on stage. After all, he’s on “The X Factor” for them as much as himself, he says.

“I want to become a best-selling artist,” shares Olivero of his motivation for competing on the show. “But if I win, I would pay off my parent’s house first. I want to make sure they don’t have to worry about paying the bills.”

“Any success I get belongs to them too.”

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