“He was legendary.” “He blew it away.” “He should be a professional.”
These are comments from students regarding the last Singer-Songwriters’ show Feb. 27. The performer: junior Samuel Velazquez.
Velazquez is not your typical junior, nor your typical musician. This year, he completely uprooted his life, moving from Monclova, Mexico, to Carmel so he could learn English.
Part of what made his performance so impressive was his flawless rendition of the song “You and I Both” by Jason Mraz. In addition, he incorporated his culture into the performance, serenading the audience with an opera-esque Spanish song, “La Gloria Eres Tu.”
“I could only imagine what it would be like to be in a new school, in a new country, getting up there all by yourself,” Singer-Songwriters’ club advisor Marc Stafford says. “I certainly was not expecting what we got. It was a moment that can never be recreated. Even if he sings again, it will never be like that first time, because nobody was expecting that.”
Velazquez’s debut was comparable to Susan Boyle’s 2009 performance on “Britain’s Got Talent”: completely out of the blue, a voice that silenced the awestruck crowd.
Initially, however, Velazquez was concerned about participating at the show.
“I was interested in what they were doing, but was worried about the songwriter part because it would be hard for me to write in English,” he says. “When I heard you could play covers, I wanted to participate.”
In fact, Velazquez’s participation in musical groups began only three years ago. It was during his freshman year in Mexico that Velazquez learned to sing.
“I was a part of a mariachi group at my old school in Mexico,” Velazquez remarks. “The songs made me feel like I needed to sing, I needed to improve.”
In addition to singing, he played many instruments, but settled on violin. He also learned piano at 10 and picked up guitar at 12.
Velazquez says that when he was planning on moving to California, he looked for mariachi bands he could be a part of, like he had in Mexico. However, he couldn’t find any groups in the area—so he instead joined the CHS orchestra, and then Singer-Songwriters.
When he sat up on the stage with nothing but his voice and his guitar, the perception of “that new kid from Mexico” completely shifted. Now, Velasquez is “the guy with the voice,” “the singer.”
Stafford recalls the moment when Velasquez broke out of his shell and perfectly belted out the two ballads.
“When I heard him sing in the cafeteria, it was a whole different experience then when he sang briefly in my room filled with talking students,” Stafford says. “My jaw dropped when I heard the power with which he sang. It was awesome. I got the chills. He was incredible. I was just blown away.”