I had a chance to chat recently with Francisco Garcia about how he’s holding up during this COVID-19 pandemic and here’s what he had to say:
Cynthia: How are you?
Francisco: I’m fine. How are you?
Cynthia: Great thank you. It’s good to hear your voice! How are your parents?
Francisco: My parents are good… in Mexico working right now with the grocery store they have in Nueva Ciudad Guerrero. It’s about 15 or 20 minutes from Roma.
Cynthia: How are you doing dealing with COVID-19?
Francisco: It’s really scary, but at the same time, it’s given me more time to spend with my family and time to focus on what I love to doing – music.
Cynthia: Congratulations on the Mariachi Nuevo Santander video you’re in… amazing how it went viral.
Francisco: I know. I was shocked!
Cynthia: As soon as COVID-19 hit, Mariachi Nuevo Santander jumped on creating an online performance piece. Jonathan Clark wrote about here and local, regional and national media picked up the story. It’s great to see more groups doing something similar.
Francisco: Yes. It’s awesome. Even the Kelly Clarkson Show picked up the story on our video going viral. She interviewed our mariachi director, Eloy Garza, and showed our virtual performance.
Cynthia: What a great reward for being innovative! How old are you now?
Francisco: I’m 16. I turned 16 on November 10th and I’ll be entering my junior year at Roma High School here in Roma, Texas in the fall.
Cynthia: How have you been spending your time during this COVID-19 pandemic?
Francisco: I’ve been spending lots of time playing my instruments – the violin, guitar, ukuele and the piano.
Cynthia: Which instrument did you learn how to play first?
Francisco: The violin — because of mariachi. After that I taught myself the ukulele and the guitar. I learned through school and through mariachi. I learned how to play the ukulele through videos on YouTube from The Ukulele Teacher. I started learning the chords and playing along with him on the videos. I learned how to play the piano through Dr. Adrián Guerra who works for Roma ISD. He started teaching my sisters and then I started going along with them to practices.
Cynthia: What technology are you currently using right now with this Stay-at-Home ordinance?
Francisco: Recently, I’ve been using Google Classroom because of my school classes. I’m using this for all of the classes including mariachi. I use YouTube a lot to search for tutorials. I also use Instagram to post covers of me singing.
Cynthia: Yes. I’ve seen you on Instagram and I’m very impressed with how you’ve raked up thousands of views from your postings. Your video of Break my Heart Again has over 243,766 views when I last checked. How does this make you feel?
Francisco: It motivates me to continue recording more songs. It inspires me knowing that people enjoy my singing and this is very encouraging.
Cynthia: Do you use YouTube for tutorials for mariachi?
Francisco: Not really. I do watch mariachi songs and I learn from those but there’s hardly any tutorials for mariachi right now.
Cynthia: What kinds of tutorials would you like to see for mariachi?
Francisco: I’d like to learn more about strumming for the different rhythms in mariachi music. Mariachi is so different from any other style of music so I would love to see a great instructional video on sones, boleros, huapangos, rancheras and others. I’d also like to see tutorials for the mariachi voice. It’s very different to sing mariachi style compared to other genres of music. Vanessa Alonso shared tips on voice for mariachi where she covered breathing and vocal tips. This was a great video and I’d like to see more of this with other lead vocalists and instructors.
Cynthia: If you could create a tutorial for students, what would it be about?
Francisco: It would mainly be about singing and lessons I’ve learned in performance from being part of Mariachi Nuevo Santander. I would also share vocal tips I learned while performing with the Ft. Worth Opera.
Cynthia: Do you have your own YouTube Channel?
Cynthia: Have you thought about what your summer is going to look like as the world continues dealing with COVID-19?
Francisco: Yes. I’ll be taking online college classes like English and Sociology through UTRGV. Our family also already had plans to travel to Cancún with my cousin. If travel restrictions to Mexico are relaxed, we may continue with plans for this trip. I’ve also been looking out for other TV reality show competitions that I could possibly audition for. I would like to do another reality show at some point.
Cynthia: Absolutely. We all enjoyed watching you on Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento and La Voz Kids. Did you know that the Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Camp has been canceled?
Francisco: Yes. I know….this is very sad. I was really looking forward to attending the camp this year, but at the same time, I know there’s always next year.
Cynthia: Have you ever recorded anything professionally?
Francisco: No. Not yet.
Cynthia: Who is your greatest inspiration?
Francisco: My greatest inspiration would probably be my dad. My dad is also in the music business and plays the drums in a norteño group called Grupo Costumbre. My dad is very supportive of everything I do.
Cynthia: He sure is. I remember at the Extravaganza in December he looked at me and said “we go everywhere with Francisco. My son brings me so much joy and we love him so much.”
Francisco: My dad is great.
Cynthia: Who is your all-time favorite artist?
Cynthia: Who is your favorite mariachi artist?
Francisco: Rocío Dúrcal.
Cynthia: Who is your favorite mariachi musician?
Francisco: Arturo Vargas — guitar player with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. I like the way he performs and I like his technique. I like the way he plays the guitar and I like the way he sings.
Cynthia: You’ve accomplished a great deal in 16 short years. You’ve been on two TV reality shows, performed in the mariachi opera Cruzar la cara de la Luna, opened for Mariachi Vargas twice with Mariachi Nuevo Santander in San Antonio and Ann Arbor, Michigan and you’ve participated in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza for five years — since you were 11. What is your lifelong goal?
Francisco: I want to study architecture and engineering and I also to want to sing professionally.
Cynthia: Thank you for your time this afternoon. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share with everyone in our mariachi community?
Francisco: Stay safe, stay at home, stay strong and keep sharing the talents that you have with the rest of the world. Keep pursuing your dreams and aspirations and we’ll get through this COVID-19 crisis together!
Cynthia: Well said!
Here are some important markers in Francisco’s involvement in music so far:
2020 – Mariachi Nuevo Santander’s video, in which Francisco participated, goes viral and is featured on the Kelly Clarkson Show.
2019 – Competes in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Group Competition – High School Category and wins first place. He also traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan with his group and represented the Extravaganza and was a finalist in the MVE Vocal Competition – High School Category.
2019 – Performs with the Ft. Worth Opera in El Pasado Nunca se Termina at Bass Concert Hall.
2018 – Competes in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Group Competition – High School Category and wins 2nd place. He also competed in the MVE Vocal competition as a finalist in the High School Category.
2018 – Appears on Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento in the spring of 2018 where he climbed to the top 15 out of 5,000 contestants.
2017 – Competes in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Group Competition – Middle School Category with Mariachi Escandón from Roma Middle School and places second. He also competed in the Vocal Competition Middle School Category and won 3rd place.
2016 – Appears on the Telemundo network’s La Voz Kids where he makes it to the second round.
2016 – Competes in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Group Competition — Middle School Category with Mariachi Escandón from Roma Middle School and places second. He also won 2nd place in the Vocal Competition Middle School Category. It was his second time competing in vocals and his first time placing.
2015 – Competes as a finalist in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Vocal Competition – Middle School Category.
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