In early April of 2015, freshman Zach Santos stood offstage, about to give his first solo performance as a vocalist in the Bishop Blanchet Jazz Band.
“I was just so nervous about my performance,” Zach admits. “I was doubting myself heavily.”
However, as he stepped up onstage and began to sing from his heart, he felt those fears melt away.
“That first solo I did was one of my best to date,” said Zach. “I sang the solo with so much raw emotion, and the love and support I felt emanating from the audience, gave me a feeling that I want to experience for the rest of my life.”
As Zach explained, that successful performance was the culmination of a lifetime of effort developing his art form. The Seattle Academy senior can hardly remember a time when music was not a part of his life.
Zach still recalls his earliest experiences with music. As a child, a smiling Zach often lost himself in the music his dad played on his car radio.
“My dad used to play Led Zeppelin, Heart, and the Beatles in the back of the car, and that really sparked my interest in music,” he said. “That laid the foundation for developing my passion.”
During middle school, Zach got involved in a Seattle-based program called the School of Rock, a music-education program that integrates one-on-one lessons with performances. Zach’s participation in this program improved his confidence as a performer.
“Because of that early exposure, I absolutely love performing,” Zach said. “During performances, I showcase all the effort I have put into my art form in that moment when I am onstage.”
Since joining the SAAS community, Zach has regularly performed in the vocal ensembles and jazz bands.
Zach’s commitment to music has taught him tremendous perseverance. Regardless of any difficulties he has experienced along the way, Zach says that the music has given him something to latch onto.
“I became depressed during my sophomore year of high school, and, for a while, I lost the motivation to play and write music,” he said. “But, I still forced myself to write and play as best I could, even though it was hard to recommit.”
Zach’s commitment to music continues to shine outside the academic environment. Zach has performed as a guitarist in in a band of his own, “The Distance,” for several years. Zach’s self-advocacy skills are evident in his search for gigs around Seattle. While he receives substantial support from his family, he explains, “My group and I go out looking for a lot of the gigs on our own.”
Zach has spent the past few years building a plan for his future in music. During the summer before 9th grade, Zach attended the 5-week summer program at Berklee College of Music. That exposure to the professional music industry piqued his interest in the school. This fall, Zach will attend the the Berklee College of Music, majoring in Professional Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance.
“Once I receive my bachelor’s degree,” Zach said, “I’d like to move to Los Angeles, and start my own record label.” Zach plans to continue performing alongside his job once finished with college.
If Zach were to give any advice to aspiring musicians who seek to start a career in music, he would say that the decision must be a concentrated and individual one.
“Definitely start marketing yourself early on,” He said. “But don’t spread yourself out across too many genres.” Zach encourages creativity and expression through different avenues, but cautions, “If the focus is sporadic, the music is confusing to listeners.”