Musical talent certainly runs in the Gutierrez family.
Killeen’s father-daughter duo, Jovino Gutierrez, 56, and Shadai Gutierrez, 29, won a singing competition at the seventh annual Premios Fox Music USA Awards 2017 in Miami, Florida, in July.
They won for best duet and best music composition with their original ballad, “Tu Voz” (“Your Voice”), which is dedicated to his mother. Days later, Jovino Gutierrez said their victory was still sinking in.
“It’s hard to believe our simple song beat so many other songs,” he said.
Fox Music USA is an organization that promotes and recognizes Latin music artists from around the world. In 2016, the Gutierrezes entered the competition for the first time getting to the semifinal round.
The competition requires each artist to write and perform an original song and submit it on a separate video recording and MP3 audio recording. They did all the composing and recording from a small home studio filled with instruments and several computers with music software programs. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges in 12 categories, including salsa, fusion folklorico and romantic and tropical among others.
At the awards ceremony, they met music celebrities, like Tito Puentes Jr., son of the legendary Latin bandleader, and performers from Central and South American countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Peru, Mexico and Cuba, plus European countries, like Switzerland.
They didn’t expect to win since their song was very personal.
“‘Tu Voz’ is about how my mother’s voice settled me when I was upset, or cheered me when I was sad,” Jovino Gutierrez said. “We took a chance to submit it, and thankfully the judges loved it.”
Several performers and record producers expressed an interest in collaborating with them on future songs.
“It’s amazing as a writer and a singer to win with a song done with Shadai,” said Jovino Gutierrez.
His daughter is proud of the accomplishment.
“This means everything to me, because I won my first major musical achievement with my dad,” Shadai Gutierrez said.
A passion for singing began in his Puerto Rico childhood where Jovino Gutierrez grew up one of 12 children. The musical gene came from his father, a musician and guitar maker, and his mother, who sang around the house, and an older brother who had a band.
“Every moment of my life is around music. It’s in my blood,” he said. Besides singing, he is a songwriter and percussionist, while Shadai Gutierrez composes the music on the keyboard for his songs.
The father credits music with keeping him sane during his 23-year Army career as a logistician. He retired in 2005 as a sergeant first class, and still works in logistics at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
Currently, Shadai Gutierrez is a teacher and an interventionist for Killeen ISD. She completed an associates degree in music and general studies at Central Texas College, and wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree eventually becoming a music teacher.
From 2000 to 2011, Gutierrez performed with his own band, Orquesta Caribe, playing salsa, merengue and ballads in clubs and festivals throughout Texas. His three children played in the band for awhile, as well as his second wife, Glenda Gutierrez, a backup singer. The couple has been married for 10 years.
“I’m not surprised they won, because Jovino breathes music,” Glenda Gutierrez said.
Songwriting comes naturally to Guiterrez, who stops whatever he is doing to jot down lyrics. Glenda called his ability a talent, not just a skill.
“Skill will take you so far, but when you have talent and skill, you can go all the way.”
All this success has motivated Jovino Guiterrez to write and record more music. And that was his advice to other would-be musicians.
“Never give up, because you don’t know who will appreciate your music.”