My father grew up in a small city in Utah. He had a large family and money was always tight. I grew up listening to stories of there not being enough food on the table to feed everyone. When the meals were ready, they raced to the table. If you weren’t quick that day, you didn’t eat. That meal may have been as simple as an onion, bread and milk soup. As he grew older, my father fought in the Vietnam War for four tours, which eventually landed him in the Philippines. There, he met my sixteen year old mother. They married shortly thereafter and came to the United States. I always felt as if she was trying to escape her surroundings and start a new life for herself. That is something I will always completely understand. She came from a large family as well. Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting any of them because we never had enough money to visit. She has always been very private about her past, but I do know that when her mother passed away, they were not on speaking terms and had not been for a very long time. All too often, history repeats itself.
They were simple people. Because of their upbringing, they were limited in what they could instill in us. Even though I went to school, I always struggled to find sophisticated ways to express myself. I was never taught proper manners or educational skills. I learned those later in life, on my own.
I’ve always been a dreamer. My life has never been easy, just like my parents. I feel that I’ve had my fair share of obstacles to overcome. I grew up in that same small town in Utah, with two older sisters. I never saw further than California or Denver until I was in my mid-twenties.
I don’t remember the moment I fell in love with music, but it’s always been a part of me. I remember always having the urge to perform and sing in front of whoever was willing to watch and listen. I loved making up dances with my friends and putting on shows. However, I was never given a lot of support. I recall singing alone in my room, then hearing my parents bang on the door to tell me to quiet down so that they could watch TV.
I was taught to give up on my dreams and live a ‘practical life’. Although, music has always been my medicine; my addiction. It has carried me through some of the best and worst times I can remember.
Even though we never had a lot, I always saw the magic in life. As I grew older, that magic was slowly stripped away from me. At thirteen, a family member played a ‘game’ with me in the car; a game that stole my innocence. From that moment on, I knew I had to get out of that small town, whatever it took.
Feeling guilty and confused, I kept quiet for years. When I had enough courage to come out with the story, my family’s number one priority was to pretend it never happened. The people I had trusted most, turned their back on me. They made me apologize to the person that had broken me. I later discovered that these situations had been occurring in my family for generations. From this situation, I had to learn to value myself enough to have a voice. I wanted to have a strong voice that would resonate with everyone!
In high school, I buried myself in academics and extracurricular activities. Because of my passion to sing and perform, I was involved in many musicals and choir groups. I also developed an interest in computers. So much so, that I received a scholarship for computer technology. This lead to a full scholarship to any school in Utah. In my heart, I knew that I couldn’t accept the opportunity. I had to get out, fast So fast, that I was living in Las Vegas within two weeks after I graduated.
In search of a ‘practical’ life, I did everything in Las Vegas, just to get by. I took jobs from receptionist to shipping and receiving for a cell phone company, to massage therapy, followed by working in a restaurant as a hostess. All that time, I continued to feel empty. Something was missing.
While working at a salon, one of my co-workers asked me to audition for her singing group. Even though I have never had a formal singing lesson, I made the cut! That was the moment I realized that I could follow my dream of being a singer.
In 2004, I was performing in a small bar. After the set, I was approached by a music producer who asked me if I wanted an opportunity to work with him on a song. From that moment, on I was introduced to various agents around town. Before I knew it, I was a full time singer. Because of that, I began learning how to believe again.
I have been the lead in shows all over the Las Vegas Strip and recorded with various artists in the studio. I had the amazing opportunity to perform in stadiums with some of the industries elite players including David Foster. Before I knew it, I was singing the national anthem for various professional sporting events in the NFL, NHL, NBA, and HBO and Showtime Boxing with massive live audiences. I have even had the chance to tour around the world with various recording artists. All that time, perfecting my craft and gaining perspective on how the world really is outside of the small town I grew up in.
I often think about the past and realize it wasn’t that my parents didn’t love me, it’s that they didn’t know how to. Even though I grew up with that void, it has taught me to cherish people who truly care about me and my well being. I have since then acquired a new family of my own; one that is devoted unconditionally. To them, I am extremely grateful.
So here I am. I spent the past two years recording my debut album with some of the most incredible musicians, writers and producers around. People that have played, produced and recorded with phenomenal artists like Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Snoop Dogg. I am so fortunate and thankful for everything. This album is a direct extension of my story. This album is me. It Is “What It Is”.
I am Rosalee.