Today we’d like to introduce you to Toni Rodriguez.
Toni, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born to do music. My grandmother was a classical vocalist, music teacher, and choir director. She passed on the gift to most of her children, but I felt the calling and had the support of my wonderful parents. When I was sixteen, I was asked to sing at a fundraiser for the CNN Hero of the year- who also happened to be Filipino- Efren Peñaflorida. I had already been singing at cultural functions, weddings, natural disaster relief benefits, and church services, but this gig was special.
Efren Peñaflorida was a former teacher who had given up a comfortable living to push a cart of books around the poorest provinces of the Philippines to teach children how to read. I felt so moved, and I knew that although I had the drive and work ethic to pursue many career paths, I had to use my natural gift to help people. I wanted a good education, so I went to Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Performance. I moved to Los Angeles to follow my dream of becoming an artist. No part of it has been easy.
Balancing my day job, seeking musical opportunities, finding the time to write my own music, and verifying personal relationships has dragged me through some serious growing pains. I had to pay my bills, but also live my passion. I had to find the time to write my music and have a social life to stay relatable as a songwriter. I had to prioritize what mattered to me the most, which meant letting go of the people and things that went against my goals. In that, I have discovered a clearer vision of what I want for myself.
Nowadays, I spend my time writing and recording my original music- which will be released very soon- auditioning, volunteering to sing at elderly homes, and coming up with creative content for my artistry. I am in the midst of a transition period, but I’m just thankful for everything that brought me here and excited for the next step.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Every day is an Everest if I push myself enough. That’s how I think now. It did take me some time to adjust to my newfound adult responsibilities after graduating from college.
I think it’s very difficult to be financially responsible as a creative, especially when there’s no tried and true path or obvious measure of success. Three to five days a week, I set aside a few hours for my day job. I have to make sure that my day job- or any other activity- doesn’t take away the energy I need to apply to making music.
LA is also full of distractions. With so many places to explore and things to do, I have to hold myself accountable. I have a wonderful set of friends, and while it’s absolutely necessary to enjoy my youth and explore my options, making music takes a lot of time and energy. I know it’s clichéd, but it’s all about balance.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am a vocal performer and songwriter. I am classically rooted, I took to jazz in college, and I write and perform pop music. Thanks to different courses I took in college, and in transcribing my muses,
I have become a vocal chameleon; I can take on a vocal character. I have a strong sense of technique, and I love coaching other vocalists in developing their voices and in studio recordings. I also have a knack for writing background vocals.
Because of my large vocal range, I try to be unconventional in the arrangements for my original songs (i.e., operatic vocal backgrounds for a pop song; 9 part choir all sung by me).
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am finally going to release some music very soon! I am also working on the concept for my first original music video. This year, I want to do more outreach through music.
To me, my journey started when my heart felt so full from that fundraiser for Efren Peñaflorida. I want to inspire children. I want to lift the spirits of old people. I want to raise money to support noble causes. I want to remind people that we are all the same, despite our outer differences.
- Website: thetonirod.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thetonirod
- Twitter: @thetonirod