Jonathan Gonzalez, born and raised in Miami to Nicaraguan parents, believes that he’s always had some sort of connection to music as confirmed by his mother who would have dreams of him singing while being pregnant with him.
His passion for music began at a very young age and even led him to begin singing at church.
Once he entered Barry, he took private voice classes with Dr. Giselle Rios, associate professor of music, where he learned proper technique and how to find his voice.
What started out as voice lessons flourished into a love for the creative arts. He is now a senior majoring in English with a professional writing specialization and a music minor.
“Music and art in general are therapeutic…it has always helped me deal with difficult situations," said Gonzalez.
He credits his professors for increasing his passion by pushing him in the right direction.
Professor Marinel Cruz taught him to believe in himself by showing him that he’s a good singer.
“She’s absolutely phenomenal….she challenges me to be a better musician," he said.
Professors John Mendelly, Vincent Connor and Beverly Coulter pushed him to discover the different areas of his voice.
“Dr. Coulter pushes me to do everything music majors have to do even though I’m only minoring,” he said. “Sometimes people make you feel like you’re less than but she saw potential and told me I could….I really appreciate her for that,” he said.
Gonzalez has also been inspired by others such as American composer, playwright and lyricist, Lin-Manuel Miranda who created “In the Heights," a musical about a young storeowner who experiences the highs and lows of his Latin community in Washington Heights.
“I look up to how he shapes his career because of the way he depicted the idea of Latino community as normal people instead of gangsters as society portrays…he wrote a show where he could be himself,” said Gonzalez.
With creative writing as an interest since high school, Gonzalez hopes to be able to create roles for those who feel like there are no roles for them, just as Miranda did.
Gonzalez’s love for writing helps stir his creativity while music allows him to understand how a singer’s voice works, and acting helps him read scripts, which are all elements used when creating a piece.
The screenwriting course taught by Dr. Andrea Greenbaum allowed him to explore his creative side by inventing his own movie musical.
The musical is about a girl with a social anxiety disorder -selective muteness- who struggles to find her voice in a family of singers and society. Her professors and friends help her overcome her anxiety to do what she loves, singing. This movie musical is meant to represent a modern Little Mermaid where instead of losing her voice for a man like Ariel, the protagonist loses it in fear that something will get in the way of her dreams.
“When Jonathan was just a freshman, and was only an English major at the time, he was the most dedicated vocal performer!” said Isis Ferreira, another vocal performance senior.
Using his interest in fairy tales, Gonzalez created this story line to reveal how anxiety is like an impulse because of its irrationality. Music is the only thing that feels rational and natural to her.
“Jonathan’s love for music is so obvious that there is not a single moment where he is not singing or jamming out to whatever song is playing in his head,” said Amanda Lund, a senior majoring in vocal performance.
Since matriculating at Barry, he has performed in 15 productions.
In the play Metamorphoses that took place Oct. 11-14, he played Apollo, Vertumnus, the Narrator and Sailor. As Apollo - the god of music - he sung “The Beautiful Light," a part that Coulter thought perfectly fit his voice.
Gonzalez was recently featured in the “Bernstein and the Big Band” musical production honoring Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday on Nov. 17 in the Broad Auditorium. In it, he played Toni in “West Side Story” and sung the “One Hand One Heart" duet and “I am Easily Assimilated” in the Candid Opera.
“It’s cool how my classes merge…we read Candid in my World Literary Masterpieces class….everything I chose to study marries seamlessly…that’s the awesome thing about a liberal arts education, you get to dip your toe in what you like,” he said.