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A coffee with .... YouTube sensation Jorge Narvaez

Father-daughter duet of 'Home' becomes Internet hit

Michael Corcoran
Jorge Narvaez and 6-year-old daughter Alexa recorded 'Home' by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes on Jan. 1 and posted it on YouTube.

It's been a crazy week and a half for Jorge Narvaez, the 24-year-old University of California San Diego student who just passed YouTube's 2 million viewer mark with the video of him and 6-year-old daughter Alexa singing "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Still, when his two kids (daughter Elian is 2) stay with him, the single father keeps a strict policy of no interviews until after they go to bed.

"I sing with them every night until they fall asleep," he said. "It's my favorite part of the day."

On the night of Jan. 1, Narvaez turned his camera on during songtime and Alexa became the Shirley Temple of the Global Warming Age virtually overnight. That's how it happens these days. Alexa had to actually wait a couple days to become a bonafide sensation because homeless "golden voice" man Ted Williams was stealing her spotlight. But when America was e-mailed, Facebooked and tweeted the adorable kid singing her heart out while her lefty father played an upside-down guitar, she put the nation in a good mood, if only for three minutes at a time.

Not just a cute voice, Alexa phrases the lyrics like a pro. She's a natural.

"She loves to sing. When she goes to school, she teaches all her classmates whatever song she learned the night before," said Narvaez, who often performs solo at coffeehouses in San Diego. Her latest faves are Alicia Keys and Katy Perry, but Alexa also has been recorded singing along to Coheed and Cambria and Christmas songs.

"I was able to get a movie camera through a grant at school," said Narvaez, an ethnic studies major who's also a talented visual artist. "And I just started filming every little thing the girls do."

That game-changing Sunday night 12 days ago was no different than any other night, except that Narvaez was determined to recapture an acoustic version of "Home" that he and his two daughters had done earlier. Eliana fell asleep after two tries; then her father, an unorthodox whistler, and older sister did about a half a dozen more run-throughs until they hit on the magical take. There's a priceless smile between father and daughter at about the one-minute mark, when they both seem to realize that they're nailing it. The big yawn Alexa tries to stifle on the last verse is her way of saying it's a wrap.

"It was about 11 o'clock at night, and Alexa was so exhausted," Narvaez said. "But the last time we did it was the best." As Alexa fell asleep, her father uploaded the video to YouTube.

"The next day I was amazed that there were 215 views," he said. One of those was from Edward Sharpe's manager, searching for fan videos of the band. He put the bedside duet on the band's Facebook page, and then it exploded. After Ryan Seacrest and Zach Braff followed, 20,000 views became 200,000 in a couple hours. Radio stations across the country began playing the cover, and Narvaez, who posts his e-mail address with the videos, started hearing from media outlets all over the country, including a producer for "Ellen."

Narvaez said he's on great terms, and has equal custody, with the mother of his daughters. "We were just very young and didn't know each other that well," he said, looking back at the relationship that made him a dad times two. "But me and their mother share a concern for all the attention Alexa is getting because she's so young."

The unsinkable Alexa Narvaez has no such cautionary thoughts, however. "I could see her going on the Jay Leno show or something and not being nervous at all," he said. "She knows she has great presence."

Enough of this newspaper reading. If you're one of the few people who hasn't already seen Alexa belting "Home," oh, about a dozen times, go to austin360.com/musicsource. And be prepared to smile.

mcorcoran@statesman.com; 445-3652