“I will persist until I succeed,” said Chris Vazquez, SoundLife Program Director, in his opening remarks at the 2019 SoundLife Summer Showcase. The quotation, which comes from the late Og Mandino set the tone for an afternoon of incredible performances from performers of all ages, skill levels, and musical interests. It was that idea of persistence and tenacity combined with discipline and inspiration that was on fully-display throughout the show.
Taking the courageous first steps onto the stage was pianist/vocalist and songwriter Noami B. who performed one of her original compositions called “Angel Or Devil.” This haunting piece captivated an audience not quite sure what to expect. Naomi’s delivery came across as both genuine and vulnerable, maintaining a sense of honesty throughout.
Following Naomi, Laurel S. took her turn sitting at the piano and singing one of her own original compositions which showcased her tremendous growth as a performer and writer.
She was followed on stage by her brother Cormac S. who sat down for a short solo piece much in the vain a traditional music recital. He executed his piece wonderfully, and smiled from ear to ear upon completion.
After the first three performances the focus transitioned over to percussion equipment that was already preset on the stage left. The next set of performers were Grandfather and Grandson, Charles F. and Nick M. Both Charles and Nick have been studying congas together with different SoundLife instructors for the last several years. Their lessons are something that brings them together and seeing how far they have come since their stage debut nearly a year before was touching. Nick and Charles first performed a piece featuring Nick, and then Charles, Nick’s Grandfather stayed on stage for two classics, the latin standard “Wave” and soul classic “Heatwave.”
The time had come for the first band to take the stage and they certainly set the tone for all of the bands to follow. Four members of the seven piece “Rock Mojis” eagerly ran up to their instruments and got in place. The three female leads stood off stage. Each member clearly knew their steps and looked ready to put on a show. The intro to AC/DC’s classic “You Shook Me All Night Long” rang out in the room and the band was off to the races. The three girls ran on stage and put on quite the show with choreography and tons of movement. The band even had their own matching shirts which their individual emojis on the front.
After three songs it was time for “Hashtag” to take the stage. The five piece had a diverse set ranging from the Punk Rock Anthem “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones to the broadway esque “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. All of the band members had clearly improved from past performances. In the middle of their set Hashtag performed an ode to summer “Island In The Sun” by Weezer with SoundLife staff. It was a perfect homage to all of the hard work students had done both in and out of school, and to the much deserved summer fun that lay ahead.
Next up was the newly formed “X-Position,” a six piece band that came together through SoundLife’s monthly “JAMS.” These superstars worked through five songs together and then capped off their performers with “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin featuring SoundLife instructor Mark Catalano. Their setlist ranged from up tempo classics like “Surrender” by Cheap Trick to new anthems like “Who Knew” by Pink.
With each band the performers on stage were just a little bit older and more experienced. Following X-Position two high school age students took to the stage alongside three instructors to perform the epic Metallica classic “Master Of Puppets.” This was a highlight of the afternoon. The lead guitarist, Babe U., tore through each of the guitar solos and brought the audience to their feat.
After six minutes of heavy metal madness, it was time for a change of pace. Up next was Upright Bass student Chris L. Chris performed with two instructors as a jazz trio. Together they played through two jazz standards. One of these standards was the Charlie Parker classic “Confirmation” which features a difficult melody rarely played on the upright bass. Chris executed those advanced passages like a true pro.
Up next was Sophie G., a brilliant budding guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Sophie silenced the audience with two wonderfully interpreted covers and two beautiful and soulful original songs. She performed half of her set solo, and the other half with instructors Mark and Mike on drums and electric bass. The audience leapt out of their chairs with applause when she took her final bow.
As the afternoon drew to a close the last band, TBD, took their places on stage. TBD is a four piece band featuring stunning three part harmonies. The front three members of the band each sang lead on different songs. They opened with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” and closed with “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Both of these classics featured wonderful harmonies impressively executed. The highlight of their set was certainly the duet “Shallow” from the motion picture “A Star Is Born” featuring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
Thirty songs and nearly thirty performers took to the stage. This was a magical afternoon. Inspiration was in the air. From young students to older students to instructors and parents, everyone felt a sense of togetherness and hope. As valet scrambled to move cars, and students squeezed together for one final picture, summer seemed to officially begin. Students became performers that day, and to everyone who was there to witness, those performers became stars.
Thank you to all of the wonderful performers, families, and friends that made this Showcase such a special memory!