“Always do what you love and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a living as a musician,” or an artist, or whatever it is you love to do. This sage advice was directed toward Henderson University students by the dynamic Alum, Jacob Flores, following a live performance Thursday night at 67 Grill in downtown Arkadelphia for the Galantine’s Day, Ladies Night Out Fashion Show. His performance was an exciting bookend to the event, which is one of the first of a series of city-sponsored events that will be taking place around Arkadelphia this year.
Flores transferred to HSU from National Park [Community] College in 2011 and majored in Spanish. He was a member of the League of Latinos and speaks highly of the Student Support Services (SSS) Trio program from which he was honored to receive a scholarship while studying here. He said the program was instrumental in his success “graduating on time” as a non-traditional student class of 2013.
When asked about his favorite memories from Henderson, he said that winning 2013 Henderson Idol was the best thing to happen to him. Growing up the son of a mariachi singer in Lubbock, Texas, Flores was shy about singing. He never had even sung in public before auditioning for the Henderson Idol Contest. He entered the contest twice, first as a Junior and made runner up, then again as a Senior when he won the title. The success was just what was needed to propel his confidence. Right after that, ready to take his career as a singer seriously, he walked into the El Parian restaurant (10th Street Arkadelphia) dressed in full mariachi dress costume and beg for his first gig. Later his first paid gig was at Slim n Shorty’s (Clinton Street, Arkadelphia). Flores received a check for $50 for a one-hour performance and says he still keeps the un-cashed check as a reminder. Since those days he has worked as a full-time musician, singer-songwriter for the last seven years, he is usually booked five or six nights a week. A peek at Flores bio at JacobFloresMusic.com gives a rundown of his musical accomplishments. He has performed at multiple music festivals in Hot Springs National Park as well as the Miss Arkansas Pageant. Flores performed along with internationally recognized recording artists La Sonora Dinamita, Los Traileros del Norte and Banda Carnaval. He has also appeared with award-winning singer-songwriter Woody Russell at the famous Skylark Lounge in Austin, Texas. He has traveled all the way to Washington DC to play for the 381st National Guard Birthday Gala. Flores has auditioned and advanced through preliminary rounds of NBC’s The Voice, and also featured on Fox Network’s American Idol: Season 14.
From the stage, Thursday night, Flores exclaimed many times how excited and nostalgic he felt to be back in “Arka-D!” which holds so many great memories for him. His show is polished and sexy. He sings popular covers in a mixture of English and Spanish with a definite Latin flair as well as more traditional Spanish favorites. He plays a piano keyboard, while also playing his guitar and looping his vocals for a vibrant full three-piece sound. Flores masterfully commands his mostly female audience with his sparkling demeanor and radiant cheeky smile as he undulates behind his guitar. He channels his family background with unexpected and lovely whee and hyip sounds, that seem to emanate from unseen back-up singers; when he “throws out un grito” as is a common feature in mariachi music. In Spanish, “grito” means to shout or yell in celebration for the music.
Flores can be found singing his heart out at Diablos Restaurant on Central Avenue in Hot Springs National Park on Wednesdays and Fridays or Jose’s Mexican Grill and Cantina on Thursday and Saturday evenings. He asks fans to follow his social media posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and look for his videos on YouTube.