Move over, Josh Groban. A Brigham Young University music graduate is poised to carve out another niche in the classical-pop crossover genre.
Nathan Pacheco's self-titled album on the Disney Pearl Series label will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 18, at local music retailers and across the country.
"I think people appreciate great music," said Pacheco, who seemingly always has had a sense of what he wants. "People want to hear great music," he said. "I love live performance. Capturing the emotion of a song through singing, connecting with the audience, that's when the magic happens."
Pacheco is the real deal. The tenor-baritone is handsome, charismatic onstage, writes his own music and what a voice! Better yet, he's humble.
"Signing with Disney is the biggest break I ever had," he said. "I'm on the cusp of a lot of good things happening. It's a dream come true."
Pacheco always has been involved in music. As a teen in Virginia, he joined a vocal workshop taught by a professor from Brigham Young University. That and his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led him to study vocal performance, specifically opera singing, at BYU in 2005.
BYU professor J. Arden Hopkin, who teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy, remembers helping expand Pacheco's baritone into the tenor range. "Nathan had a preference to sing popular music," Hopkin said. "He was not inclined to be sidetracked from his path. He was determined to get what he could from school, but wasn't going to be deterred from the direction he wanted to take."
Because Pacheco had served an LDS mission in Brazil, the professor included him among four students in a performance tour in Brazil Hopkin organized "to give [them] an opportunity to see what it would be like to be on tour."
It was rough 11 concerts in 14 days. The singers had to be ready to perform even under the most trying circumstances, Hopkin said.
"As the pressure of the tour built, Nathan was the only one who thrived," he said. "Others lost their voices or found it too grueling."
In Brazil, it's customary after a concert for the audience to come onstage and give the performers a kiss on the cheek. Hopkin remembers, "Nathan was very easy with the interaction and charming. The ladies would get in line, kiss him, then go back in line to kiss him again." The tour "awakened in him what the possibilities were," Hopkin said.
Pacheco added: "It was one of the experiences that convinced me I wanted to do this for a career."
His first break came when he was chosen to join Yanni Voices. Yanni, the world-famous Greek self-taught pianist, composer and music producer, has blended jazz, classical, soft rock and world music to create predominantly instrumental works, but then Yanni decided to branch out and add singers to his concerts.
When Pacheco heard about it, he auditioned by writing and performing an original song. He got the job. It was while taping a Yanni Voices concert for a PBS special that Pacheco caught the ear of Andrea Bocelli, who helped Josh Groban develop a crossover style that blended opera and pop music.
"I'm more drawn to crossover," Pacheco said. "Those are the themes and songs that allow me to express what's inside of me."
"Avatar" is a crossover song Pacheco wrote that's included on his self-titled album. "When it comes to writing and feeling inspired, I work the best alone on the piano," he said.
He collaborated with Leo Z, an Italian musician and arranger, on production. Together, they came up with a unusual instrumentation of orchestra, Irish uillean pipes and drums that gives the album its own sound.
"I would share ideas with Leo to get the magic," Pacheco said. He knew he'd found the right sound when he hit upon setting the chorus to "Avatar" in his tenor range. He delicately floats the lyric melody above driving drums to evoke an uplifting emotion that hooks the tune into the listener's mind where it plays gently over and over.
About Nathan Pacheco
A PBS special, "Introducing Nathan Pacheco," will be re-aired Sunday, Sept. 16, at 9:30 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
The singer's self-titled album on the Disney Pearl Series label will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 18, at local music retailers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Go to www.nathanpacheco.com to hear Pacheco's song "Avatar" and to see a schedule of his performances, which will include a concert in Salt Lake City on Nov. 21 at the Jeanne Wagner Theater. He also will have a Christmas special on PBS after the concert.