Andy Vargas – Sharing the soul of music through vocals, performance and philanthropy

by | Jan 20, 2017 | Cover Story

 For Andy Vargas, music has always been about the meeting of souls.
“It was never about becoming rich and famous,” he said of his break into the industry.  “It’s about what it’s like to perform in front of an audience, to have that opportunity to take them on a ride, to portray your music – your soul – to them, to be naked in front of them.”
From an early age, Andy understood something that greats like Carlos Santana have worked to protect and nurture throughout their entire careers: the opportunity for genuine human connection that lives in the sharing of music.  So when Andy got his chance to perform for the industry’s most impassioned performers, he made sure he never missed that opportunity.
For the Vargas family, music has always been close to godliness.  Before his career as a musician, Andy’s father, Javier Vargas, was studying for the ministry in Mexico.  Teaching music through the church, Javier eventually came to Watsonville, where he met Andy’s mother, Diana Vargas, and they fell in love.  Soon Javier traded a life in the ministry for a family and a great Mariachi band.
“I grew up in the midst of all of this,” Andy said of his deeply musical childhood.
What started as a couple of appearances with his father’s band quickly grew into Andy’s first love: singing Mariachi.  By high school, Andy was laying the tracks to what would eventually be his future sound.
“In high school, I fell in love with R&B and soul.  I would get together with some guys, and at lunch, we would go sing on the football field,” he recalled.  “Just these young Latino boys, all with a dream.”
And then Andy’s mom had an idea: She knew someone, through work, who might be able to help Andy.  Shortly after, they drove to an inn located in Carmel, and Andy sang for Terry Melcher, a musician and record producer, and the son of Doris Day.
“He had one of the first visions for me to be able to sing directly and immediately in English and Spanish,” Andy recalled.
Quickly, plans were set in motion, and Andy found himself walking the halls of Terry’s Carmel home.
“I remember walking through this beautiful home on the top of a hill at age 15, amazed at the gold records on the wall, and wondering: Is this for me?” Andy said.  “I knew there was this calling (to the industry) that everyone wanted, to get signed or found, and I remember considering the idea that I was walking in my dream.”
Soon, Andy began working with RCA to record an album.
“I spent a few years in artist development, which is kind of unheard of today, and I gained an extraordinary view of building
records.”
During his time with RCA, Andy worked with A & R executive Ron Fair, as well as some of the best musicians, producers, songwriters and studios in the nation.  He worked alongside label-mates including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Fergie.  However, music was about something specific for Andy, and eventually, he became artistically frustrated with the label and decided to audition for Carlos Santana, who had just released “Supernatural” at the time.  Initially, the gig was a temporary collaboration.
“The next day or so, I go the call,” he said.
Sixteen years later, time has flown by for Andy.  He’s worked alongside legends like Raul Rekow, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Eric Clapton and more.
As Andy grew as an artist and a person, he kept his focus on what mattered to him.
“We’re all looking to accomplish the greatest that we can for ourselves,” he said.  “How you feel about yourself and believe in yourself is all that matters.”
Slowly, he dreamt up his next project, a record label that would protect and foster upcoming indie artists.
“I knew I really wanted to present who I am, my spirit, my soul,” he said.  “So I dug deep into my roots.”
Soon Andy formed Souleros: a blend of Spanish heart and urban undertones.  With smooth R&B vocals, Souleros Music is derived from soulful R&B integrated with traditional Spanish ballads known as “Boleros,” and it’s delivered by some of the most influential musicians in the world.
“George Pajon and Chuck Prada worked on a single for me, and I was singing on top of his beats,” Andy explained of the organic arrangement of genres in his new single, “The Beat.”  “And quickly, Souleros became more: a style, an expression of a culture, a lifestyle.”
As Andy built up the independent record label, he capitalized on the changing music industry to add another layer of meaning to his new venture.
“I want to share this,” he explained.  “And there were kids out there, young Latinos and musicians, who were being forgotten.”
Soon, the Andy Vargas Foundation became a way for him to raise others up while sharing what he does best: music.  Today, the non-profit exists to inspire and support at-risk youth in making better choices.  Areas of focus include youth mentoring, vocational guidance, assistance and rewards programs.
“The goal is to educate and inspire children through music and art,” he said.  “For some kids, writing a rap or a song, and trying to sing it, is something different to do than become involved with a gang.  I was very close to that at one time, but I had an inspiration, a talent and a good family.  I want to be that for other kids.”
As the foundation developed, Andy and his partners wanted to provide more music education, teaching kids how to write a song, record music or speak in front of a camera.  Soon Operation New Hope School of Music became another arm of support from the foundation.
“Then that next step is to get them promoted,” he said.  “I’m bringing all of this energy that we’re creating with Souleros back to the foundation.”
That’s how Andy became involved with Santa Clarita.  Souleros is currently partnering with Back Porch Music, a new music venue and upcoming non-profit in Placerita Canyon, to create a space for his students to practice, gain confidence and get their name out there.
“In spring 2017, we’re going to present some of the work we’ve been doing at Back Porch Music,” he said.
With Souleros as the headliner, Back Porch Music and the Andy Vargas Foundation can bring attention to rising indie artists and kids with dreams.
“I’m really honored to be a part of this,” Andy said.  “There is so much opportunity to showcase new talent, to create and support dreams.  Really, the first step is to keep our vision simple, and that will make the greatest impact.”
For more information about Souleros Music or the Andy Vargas Foundation, please visit www.andyvargas.com.  Follow Andy Vargas Music on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.  For information about Back Porch Music and upcoming concerts, please visit www.facebook.com/thebackporchmusic.

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