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Antonio Lopez: “Hold on to the magic of music and never let go”

One of the most important jobs of a musician is to not become jaded. The reward lies in the process, playing guitar and singing every day purely for the joy of it, exploring those rabbit holes getting lost in an ocean of sound. The further I get down this music path, I realize it’s a […]

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One of the most important jobs of a musician is to not become jaded. The reward lies in the process, playing guitar and singing every day purely for the joy of it, exploring those rabbit holes getting lost in an ocean of sound. The further I get down this music path, I realize it’s a journey of self-discovery and becoming more of what I already am. It’s a process of becoming myself. What does the future hold? Some things you can never know. You just have to believe.”


As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Antonio Lopez.

Antonio Lopez is a musician, composer, and the executive director of the nonprofit, Sound Bridge Music. He is a quiet man who has something to say. His music is like an onion. It has many layers, each one revealing something more. At the core, Lopez is a singer-songwriter in service to the song. His adept guitar work and composition skills are never used in a showy way, but rather like the spices in a delectable home cooked meal. The result is a feast of emotions that is a delight to the listener.

Lopez was born and raised in Alamosa, CO, growing up steeped in the Chicano culture of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Since 2012 Lopez has been living in Longmont, CO. Speaking of the move he says “ I was green as they come when I first arrived on The Front Range, full of that naive small-town optimism. The first job I had was as a night janitor in the public schools, trying to hustle my first gigs in a new music scene.” That hustle ethic has paid off as evidenced by Antonio’s newest album, Roots and Wings, which was crowdfunded through a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign.

Serving as the executive director of the non-profit Sound Bridge Music, Lopez vows to do what he can to help support the Front Range music community navigate the challenges raised by Covid-19.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town in Southern Colorado called Alamosa. Located in the San Luis Valley, there is a certain magic and mystique that exists down there. The valley floor is flat as a pancake stretching 122 miles long and 74 miles wide and is surrounded by The San Juan and The Sangre De Cristo Mountain Ranges.

I am the youngest of five children. My mother is a retired second-grade school teacher who dedicated her life to educating generations of youth. She grew up the youngest of eleven children. Her father never learned to read or write and started working in Southern Colorado’s coal mines at a young age. My father is an activist and lawyer. He and his brother Reyes became lawyers to amplify the voices of oppressed people during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Music came into the picture via my older brother Reyes and his CD collection. He’d let me listen to his portable Discman CD player in exchange for giving him back massages. Two songs in particular made an impression on me. “Under the Bridge” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers and “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses. I started playing in the 2nd grade, starting with piano lessons, later taking up choir and clarinet in the school band. The guitar came later in middle school when I decided a red electric guitar was cooler than the clarinet. You would never guess it by the music I play nowadays, but I was into heavy metal in my early years.

I stuck around Alamosa all my youth, eventually graduating from Adams State University with degrees in guitar performance and music composition. The only two places I’ve lived in my life are Alamosa and Longmont, CO, where I’ve been residing since 2012. I was green as they come when I first arrived on The Front Range, full of that naive small-town optimism. The first job I had was as a night janitor in the public schools, trying to hustle my first gigs in a new music scene.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

While I was in the 4th grade, I participated in EXPO, which was similar to a science fair. Instead of making a baking soda volcano or a trifold poster board on the water cycle, kids were encouraged to present any topic they chose. I was fascinated by Vaudeville performers like Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Chaplin, so I decided to make my own vaudevillian type show with a little help from my dad. I wrote a story called “Martin’s Big Day,” which I narrated and accompanied on the piano. Martin, the main character in the story, was a monkey who was always helping his friends, then one day, he needed their help. It was your classic pay-it-forward story. At the end of the show, I played “Pop Goes The Weasel,” and my dad popped out of the top of the cardboard box wearing a monkey mask. We performed “Martins Big Day” repeatedly over the course of EXPO, improvising and adding on to the story. This experience is where I got hooked on the energetic high that comes with performing for an audience.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Have you ever had a mystical experience? A spiritual awakening? Well, I’m going to tell you a little about mine. It was February of 2015. I had just gotten back home to Colorado after attending the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City. Folk Alliance is an annual gathering of several thousand musicians, DJs, festival organizers, etc. Everyone says that your first folk alliance conference is overwhelming and that you come back home with your tail between your legs. But I had quite the opposite experience. When I got home, I was wired for days. When I get excited, I have trouble sleeping. As I was lying in bed, I felt my consciousness rise out of my body and hover over me, looking down. Intense energy shot through me, extending down into the earth’s core and up into outer space. I believe that I was astral traveling. After this experience, I felt a deeper connection and purpose with life and possessed a steadfast drive. It was as if a switch was flipped.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Growing up, I played the clarinet in the school band. At the sixth grade Spring Concert, I got so into the music and started playing with my eyes closed. In group ensembles like this, the conductor gives a cue called a cut-off when it is time for the piece to end. Since I had my eyes closed, I missed this cue and kept playing for a few seconds after the rest of the band had stopped. Everybody knew me as the music wiz, so the rest of the band looked at me with the confused look of “What just happened?”. Lol. The lesson I learned from this was to stay tuned into whoever is leading the band!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My new album Roots and Wings will be out on New Years Day 2021. That is my main focus right now. I had a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year to help fund the release. I am grateful the album was funded, and the recording was completed before the pandemic hit. Leading up to the full album dropping, I have been releasing a series of singles.

The seeds of my new albumRoots and Wingswere planted in the late summer of 2018 as my wife Georgia and I were flying back from our honeymoon. We went to Vancouver Island in Canada. I picked up a free newspaper called The New Agora with an article about stepping into this new form of masculinity and fatherhood with a quote from Goethe that hit me in the gut…” There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children, one of these is roots, the other, wings.” I read these words as I was in the airplane, flying miles above the ground. I was tearing up as I reminisced on my childhood and all the sacrifices my parents made for me to have a better life than they had.

I mentioned my school teacher mom and activist attorney dad earlier. My dad and his brother Reyes became lawyers to amplify the voices of oppressed people during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and ’70s. During this time, the FBI formed a secret branch called COINTELPRO to infiltrate and disrupt domestic social movements. They often used illegal tactics. It is believed that these operations lead to the death of my uncle Reyes in a mysterious car bombing at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO in 1974. The way they silenced my dad was trumping up false charges, forcing him into exile and into relinquishing his license to practice law for over ten years. He was later exonerated of all charges and gained his license back. However, the shadows of those events still loom over my family.

Even though these events happened before I was born, they are an essential part of my story. My parents’ and others’ work in the civil rights movement allowed me to get a college education in music composition and classical guitar. I see my work as a continuation of this progress. I am a bridge-builder. I use music as a unifying force to bridge the gap between racial, economic, and cultural divides. Music is the common ground-the meeting point. A place to both share who we are and to put aside who we are.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Positive representation of marginalized groups in the media is crucial because it provides inspiration and affirmation for those who share these identity traits. Books, films, TV, etc., are mirrors that we can see ourselves reflected back at us through another’s story. Also, they are windows through which we can capture a glimpse of another person’s lived experiences. More representation leads to a better understanding of and empathy for different people.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”, and why.

1. Take the work seriously, but not yourself.

2. Surround yourself with people that are better than you are. This environment keeps you humble and hungry to improve.

3. Instead of being attached to results enjoy the process. The ego is attached to outcomes and gaining recognition. Creativity flows when you let go of expectations and are present in the moment.

4. You have to spend money to make money. Build a team because you can’t do it all on your own.

5. Hold on to the magic of music and never let go.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

One of the most important jobs of a musician is to not become jaded. The reward lies in the process, playing guitar and singing every day purely for the joy of it, exploring those rabbit holes getting lost in an ocean of sound. The further I get down this music path, I realize it’s a journey of self-discovery and becoming more of what I already am. It’s a process of becoming myself. What does the future hold? Some things you can never know. You just have to believe.”

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am the executive director of a music non-profit called Sound Bridge Music. In taking on this role, I vow to do what I can to support the music community as we navigate the difficulties caused by the pandemic. I’ve been busy applying for grant funding and building partnerships with like-minded organizations. I am happy to report that some of this grant funding is coming through. I have some ambitious plans with Sound Bridge Music heading into the New Year, but I am still connecting the dots, so I don’t want to say too much at this point.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I graduated from Adams State University with a double major in guitar performance and music composition. I cite my composition lessons with professor Dr. Matthew Schildt as a pivotal point in my musical evolution. After each lesson, I’d feel like a kid who just received a new box of Legos. I’d go home and try and build something new, utilizing what I just learned. Nowadays, I apply my guitar and composition skills not in a showy way but in service to the song, adding depth and dimension like the spices in a delectable home-cooked meal.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” — George Washington Carver

The key to success is all about bringing compassion and empathy into our everyday interactions and relationships. The ability to look at things from points of view other than your own is a powerful tool.

Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would choose one of my biggest songwriting heroes Darrell Scott. I’ve had the opportunity to take some masterclasses with him, and I love the way he carries himself. He is humble and filled with wisdom.

How can our readers follow you online?

website // spotify // facebook // youtube // instagram // newsletter

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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