Teen not about to miss chance to showcase talents

12/16/2013

Reyes travels to Denver to try out for 'America's Got Talent.'

Reyes travels to Denver to try out for 'America's Got Talent.'

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

Every night after school and sports practices, Joshua Reyes comes home and spends more than two hours working on his passion for music.

Reyes, a 15-year-old freshman at Garden City High School, hopes all the hours put into playing his guitar and singing pays off with an appearance on the NBC television show, "America's Got Talent."

On Dec. 7, Reyes and a few family members traveled to Denver to audition for the show. Denver is one of 11 cities hosting "America's Got Talent" auditions.

About a year ago, Reyes filled out an online form for the show and sent in an audition video. He had been looking at YouTube videos of the show and thought it looked like fun.

"I didn't know you could sign up. I thought they just picked you. I didn't know you could actually audition for it," he said. "One day, I looked it up on Google and I saw open auditions, so I signed up for it. "

In early November, the show sent Reyes an email inviting him to the Denver tryout.

"I was really excited," he said.

Reyes, the son of Gonzalo and Rebecca Reyes, loves playing guitar and playing sports, including wrestling, football and track. Reyes, who has 16 brothers and sisters, said his family supported him all the way in any way they could.

Being a little short on funds for the trip, Reyes and family members made and sold enchiladas to raise money. He even sold his cherished iPhone for additional cash.

"Yeah, I don't even let anyone borrow it, but I wanted to go really, really bad," he said.

Reyes, his mother, and his brother-in-law and sister Hugo and Marisol Salvador, all drove to Denver.

His mother thought Josh was joking when he told the family he had signed up for "America's Got Talent."

"I thought, 'Yeah, sure, Josh.' What did you do? As a mother you always hear kids talk about big dreams," Rebecca Reyes said.

Reality didn't sink in until Josh showed her the confirmation email.

In Denver, thousands of people showed up at the convention center. Joshua and his family waited in line for three hours to go inside.

"There were a lot of talented people there. You could hear people from all sides, people singing, people doing acts," Joshua said.

Some of the more memorable people Reyes got to know included a man named Christian, who was a member of the Crow Indian tribe who danced and sang in full tribal gear; an 8-year-old drummer; and a Mariachi band.

Rebecca Reyes said about 15 to 20 people at a time were brought into a room. Producers told them they were looking for people who were outgoing, energetic and had positive energy.

Each performer was given about 90 seconds to perform in front of a single producer.

For the audition, Joshua sang, "Keep Me In Your Will" by Jessica King because he felt it related to him and his relationship with the Lord.

Joshua admitted he was nervous when introducing himself to the producer, but it went away when he started to sing.

"When I strummed the first chord on the guitar, I wasn't nervous anymore. It all went away. I wasn't nervous one bit," he said.

The producer told Reyes he did a good job.

Reyes comes from a musical family. His dad, Gonzalo, is a multi-faceted musician who plays accordion, guitar, bass and piano. Some of his other siblings also play guitars or the drums, and his mother sings. The family has a music studio in their basement.

"Sometimes it gets crazy here because my husband is playing accordion upstairs, and I can hear Josh downstairs, and everyone in between," Rebecca Reyes said with a laugh.

Reyes said his father got him started learning guitar, teaching him one note. He then observed his dad, watched a lot of YouTube videos and learned by watching others perform at their church, the Church of God of the Firstborn.

"I've been singing at church since I was little, probably since I was born," Joshua said.

"Probably as soon as he could talk," his mother said.

Reyes won't know for several weeks or months if he made the next round. He said the show will contact people between January and March who are tapped to make it to the next round, which will mean competitions on live television.

Even if he doesn't make the next round, Reyes felt it was a good experience.

"It was a really good experience seeing all the other people wanting to do the same thing I want to do," he said.

With obvious pride, Rebecca Reyes said she was amazed at Joshua's desire to try out, but not surprised about him pursuing his dreams. She said her son has written a couple of songs already, including one titled, "Dreams."

"To me, it's a blessing from God to know that he has that desire to do something better. He has big dreams, and I know if he puts his mind to it, he's going to do it, with God's help," she said.

After high school, Joshua intends to go to college. Right now he's thinking about attending Fort Hays State University to major in architecture and also possibly wrestle for the Tigers. He plans to also continue working on his music.

The thing Reyes enjoys about music is the ability to lose himself in it.

"It calms me. Sometimes I have a bad day, and I go downstairs and play my guitar and just forget about everything else. I don't know, I just love playing. Sometimes you can't express things in words, but you can sing and feel relief," he said.

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