Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Student displaced by storm, struggles and perseveres with music


Communications major Jose Vargas, 22, came to the United States on Oct. 8 with a backpack full of all his belongings—two shirts and two pants—and two days later he started class at St. Thomas University. Jose is one of the 90 students from Puerto Rico and other hurricane-battered Caribbean islands that chose to resume their education at St. Thomas.

Jose came to Miami looking for the basic necessities many of us take for granted: running water, electricity and a roof over our heads. But, he also came for the opportunity to continue his education and his music career.

“I’ve been independently writing and producing music since the age of 15,” he said. “After Hurricane Irma it was hard to focus on what I loved the most, my music, but that changed the moment I stepped onto campus at St. Thomas.”

Shortly after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Thomas University began offering free room and board for college students in Puerto Rico and affected islands who wished to continue their studies, and regain a sense of normalcy.

Jose took advantage of this opportunity, which allowed him to refocus on his education and music. Jose credits his dad for the exposure to the music business, and church for the inspiration to pursue his music dreams.

“My dad, Jose, has been in the music industry for years in Puerto Rico. He produced music events for people like Elvis Crespo, Grupo Manía, and Toño Rosario, to name a few.”

But, church is where he found his voice.

“I was sitting in church one day, and was inspired by the choir.”

Immediately after mass, he approached the priest and asked if he could sing with the choir. Soon after, he became a member of the choir and even learned to play several instruments including the piano, bass, and guitar.

His vocal and instrumental prowess can be heard on his first single “Tu lo Llenas Todo” available on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

And, in a few days, his newest single “Se Termino,” an ode to the brokenhearted, will be playing on the radio! He wrote “Se Termino” in his dorm room at St. Thomas’ in less than two days.

Jose is currently in the process of shooting the music video in Los Angeles, and a remix is also in the works.

Make sure to follow all his social media adventures and on Spotify: @vargasrhodes.

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