We had the good fortune of connecting with Gino Rosaria and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gino, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
As my music has become more and more known over time, I have started traveling more. Now I travel several times a month to go do a show somewhere. It’s never easy being away from my family. I’ve had to miss Taekwando tournaments, school plays, family gatherings, and more. Those are experiences that I’ll never get back. For those reasons, it is very important for me to have a strong support system from my family. My family believes in what I do and supports me. In return, I have to make the most of my time when I’m home. I make sure to spend a lot of time with the kids doing homework, taking them to after school activities, playing ball, reading books, or just sitting on the back porch talking. My phone automatically goes into “Do Not Disturb” mode when the kids come home from school until 8p when they go to bed. During that “Do Not Disturb” time, there are very few things that are important enough for me to do on my phone that can’t wait until after the kids go to bed. By showing the family that I love and support them, they will understand and support me in my goals and dreams of growing my music career. It’s very easy to stay busy with music, but family must always come first.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up on the island of Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean, right next to Aruba. If you’re a baseball fan you’ve probably heard of Curaçao. Curaçao is a big melting pot of cultures, heavily influenced by Hispanic and African cultures. That means that I was exposed to a lot of styles of music growing up. I can hit you with a mean Salsa, then switch it up on you and play a mean Reggae or Afro beat with lots of percussion, then play you a Chopin Polenaise, then a Merengue, and wrap it up with some old skool funk. I’m all over the place stylistically, and I use that to my advantage. When I perform I try to showcase all of those elements in my playing. It keeps the show interesting because I’m able to transition into totally different styles.
It took a lot of work to get to where I am today. And there is still a lot of work to be done! It definitely was not easy. If I didn’t have key supporters in my corner who helped open doors for me, I don’t know where I would be today in my music career.
Lessons that I’ve learned along the way: Treat others the way you want to be treated. As an artist leading a band I compare myself to being a CEO of a company. My goal is to motivate and encourage my band mates and to make sure they are respected and appreciated. When they are respected and appreciated, they will go above and beyond to make sure I have a good show. I’ve also learned the importance of giving. If Mr. Daniel didn’t support me financially, or my piano teacher supporting me with his time, or artists sharing spotlight with me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s my responsibility to give to others the way was given to me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well for me that would mean my best friend from Curaçao visiting me here in the USA. I would take him to Miami Beach, then drive up to Orlando the next day and visit some theme parks. Then fly out to California to visit San Diego and San Francisco. Then fly out to New York to visit NYC and catch a show. Then fly to Atlanta to see a Braves game. And finally fly back to Pensacola FL where I currently live and relax at the condo on the beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Naturally, my mom and dad who have been there from day one. But there are several other people who have been pivotal in the making of my music career. My piano instructor when I was a teenager. I never had a piano growing up. My piano teacher gave me a key to the music school so I could go there every day and practice in one of the practice rooms. I wasn’t supposed to have a key but he believed enough in me to take that risk for me. I walked for a good hour in the sun after school with my heavy book bag to go to the music school to practice till the evening hours. I was there 6 days a week!
Then there was Mr. Daniel. When I was 15 my dad lost his job and I couldn’t take piano lessons anymore. A year later, Mr Daniel heard me play at a school program, and after finding out why I wasn’t taking lessons, he told me to go immediately to the music school to sign up and that he would pay my monthly tuition. I thought he was joking, but Mr Daniel stopped by my house on the first of the month for two years and gave me a check to pay my tuition! When I asked him how I could repay him, he said he just wanted me to do the same for someone else when I see the need. Unfortunately Mr Daniel passed away several years ago and did not get to see the fruits of his gifts. So in honor of Mr. Daniel, I have been doing an annual fundraiser Christmas concert for the past 8 years, and I donated 100% of the profits to the local music school in Pensacola so kids could learn music free of charge from professional instructors. My concerts have raised as much as $16,000 in a year for the music school and I plan on continuing the tradition. Thanks to Mr. Daniel for inspiring me.
I’d also like to give a quick shout out to artist David Jones, who was the first one to hire me on a professional level to produce his album, which made it on Billboard. Thanks to David I got to meet several other artists on that session who helped open doors for me as a performer and producer.
Finally, I’d like to give a shoutout to Dee Lucas, who has brought along me with him on his tours and always gave me a spotlight on his shows. It’s not easy booking a show in a city where no one has seen you do a show before, but thanks to Dee showcasing me, I was able to start booking my own shows as an artist. Major respect to Dee for being willing to share his spotlight with me and help me grow my career.