You know, I must speak from the heart for a moment and take the time to tell you what’s on my mind. First of all forgive the spelling and grammar errors in the post, I’ll be writing exactly what flows from the heart. I’m in my hotel room in LA after a long day of rehearsing with Urban Method and have to get some things off my chest…
I had 3 experiences lately that put my professional career and life of music into perspective. First of all, a little history of some personal things I’ve been through…
6 years ago I got a divorce, I was unemployed, and barely making my child support payments. That left me with not much to eat. I supported myself by pushing hard to make my passion of a cappella music and studio recording make money. It wasn’t much income and I continued to lose weight except that I got to eat bowls of soup at The Olive Garden where I was a part time server… I was almost homeless but relied on music to pull me through by mixing the Groove Society project that came out in 2004. I think they have no idea how grateful I was for being hired to do their CD! 2 years later, I met the woman of my dreams. Not because she was the most beautiful person on the outside, although she’s pretty cute, but for who she is on the inside. She had a way of bringing confidence and focus to my career. No matter what, I knew that she loved me for who I was, and more importantly, for what I had a dream of becoming.
For those of you who don’t know, I mix Take 6, an a cappella, gospel, jazz group that I’ve been a fan of since 1989. It’s been a blessing to work with such fine, strong, christian men for the last 5 years. I found myself last month on a treadmill, running 3 miles, while looking out from the 33rd floor of a building in Shanghai China. I thought to myself, “How did I get here”?
I put together this group called Urban Method to audition for the NBC Sing Off. I have had a dream for about 3 years of putting some of the best talent in Colorado all in one group. Finally, this was the time and opportunity to do it. I put out a Facebook message to 7 of the best singers I knew. But more importantly, some of the best personalities I knew. We formed the group, I arranged a few songs, along with Richard, and we taped a video to send to Sony Pictures. A week later we got the contract, and 3 weeks later, learned we were on the show. Now we are in the top 4, have been taping episodes in LA for a total of 9 weeks, and have the chance to win it all. We worked 7 days a week, 12-15 hours a day rehearsing, for 9 weeks with no days off. And it was worth it!
I have been working with the choir teacher at Douglas HS (Randy Gifford) for about a year, helping him get good sound equipment for his students. I drove up there soon after finishing the Sing Off episode 10 taping to talk to the kids and work on the sound system. We talked for a few hours about life, career, and music. After working all day with the kids, I had a nice long drive back to Denver, about 3.5 hours. I had a lot of time to think….. and think….. and ponder those kids and their future. I enjoyed seeing their faces light up with intrigue about music and what I had been part of.
What was I thinking after all that?
After looking in those kids eyes in Douglas, Wyoming, feeling the emotion of being in China, and the utter exhaustion of being on the Sing Off, this is what I think…
The moments in my life I realize had the most impact on my life and career are:
1. The times when I looked up to someone older (more accomplished) than me and wanted to be in their shoes. ie, Take 6, my brothers Juan and Marco, My High School choir teacher Mr. Roberts, and the 17th Avenue Allstars.
2. The many hours of sitting in symphony rehearsals, piano lessons, choir rehearsals, and recitals with my Mom as she taught and played music. I was bored out of my mind but realize now that the music and drive to achieve my dreams was planted in my soul then.
3. When I heard for the first time from Claude McKnight and Mark Kibble about how they prepared for the opportunity of launching Take 6 and getting the record deal with Quincy Jones. Then, knowing that if I want to make it in music, fully committing myself to my dreams and putting in the countless hours regardless of the outcome.
Go, define what makes you tick. Next, find what you really love to do! Study those who you are inspired by and learn from them! Chase your dreams tirelessly by putting in the thousand of hours to master the skills necessary to be successful! When you find success, be the one who inspires those around you to make their dreams come true. I will continue to drag my kids to rehearsals and countless concerts. I will continue to talk and work with young musicians to inspire them to chase their dreams. I will continue to work hard with Urban Method knowing that success is the direct result of hard work focused on a heart felt passion. I’m not trying to brag about my success in my career. I’m making sure people around me can see where I’ve been, how hard I’ve worked, and what I’ve become. I want everyone to know that they can do it too. If you focus on affecting the people around you, you will become successful and happy regardless of income and status.
Ahh, now I can sleep! I have a long day of rehearsals tomorrow doing what I love. Goodnight….