Jacob Flores

Passion for music drives local performer

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Photography by Mara Kuhn and Richard Rasmussen

As a third-generation mariachi singer, local independent musician Jacob Flores’ passion for music has placed him on stages in Hot Springs and beyond, including FOX’s “American Idol” and NBC’s “The Voice.”

“American Idol” fans will recall seeing Flores audition in front of stars Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban during the show’s 2014 season.

“I wasn’t nervous — I was hyped; you go into this room and there’s a green light, then you go into another room and there’s another green light, and then you’re on. It was so bright; it’s how TV looks, so overdone,” Flores said. “They were so pretty. I don’t know if it was the makeup or what but they didn’t look real.

“There was some dead time so I was thinking to myself, ‘Say something witty … just say something.’ They were nice. I don’t think Harry really cared for the shiny pants but J-Lo and Keith liked me.”

Flores recorded his first full album in April titled “No Borders” at Blue Rock recording studio in Texas, and hopes the album will be released at the end of November.

“‘No Borders’ basically means I’m not afraid to go into uncharted territory,” Flores said. “The music genre is contemporary mariachi music mixed with classic soul and R&B.”

Some of his musical influences are Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye, Sam Cook and Al Green.

flores2“It started with my dad; I’m a third-generation mariachi singer so I was around it growing up. I was always around music and, of the three kids, I seemed to be the one that really enjoyed it,” Flores said. “Even to this day, my dad’s still got it — he sings with such passion and mariachi music is very passionate.”

Flores recalls listening to music in his bedroom as a child and his mom being surprised at the type of music he listened to, calling her son an “old soul.”

With a regular gig at Jose’s Mexican Grill & Cantina on Thursday and Saturday nights, Flores said one of his goals is to provide “a little something for everyone” with his music.

Dressed in his mariachi suit, he’ll start off with a classy number such as “At Last” by Etta James to lure in the audience, who otherwise might not have given him a chance because of the way he was dressed, and then go into a performance of a popular Spanish song.

“There’s a lady that comes into Jose’s every Thursday, sits at the same table and requests the same Spanish song every time, even though she has no idea what the words mean, which is really cool because that’s my grandma’s favorite song and she only speaks Spanish,” he said. “That goes with the whole ‘No Borders’ thing — it’s just bridging these different areas for dif- ferent people.”

flores3While he might be biased because he grew up with the music, Flores said if people will just give mariachi music a chance, they might find that they actually like the music.

“Sometimes if people see a whole mariachi band standing there, they wouldn’t even want to give it a chance,” he said. “Mariachi music is all about telling a story and a lot of the songs are so beautiful.”

Flores has a 5-year-old son, Eli, who enjoys watching his dad perform and singing along with his songs.

“I was shy as a kid and I grew into my personality but Eli is ready for the stage and I can see some potential for the future. He would be the fourth generation musician in our family,” he said.

“I’ve learned that you just have to get up and perform no matter what, so, 10 years from now if I was still doing that, no matter if it was at the restaurant or a sold out concert, I’m going to be up there having fun because I love music,” Flores said. “Hopefully I’ll get to see some success with the music, but, I already feel successful. If my music touches people, that’s what it’s all about.”

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