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Venezuelan Pop Star Enghel Gabriel on campus

By Ariana Mao

It’s not often that a chart-topping pop star wanders Westminster’s halls, but from Jan. 14 through Jan. 18, Venezuelan singer Enghel Gabriel performed and mingled with students.

The singer of “Se Busca Novia”, currently number three on the Venezuelan music charts, “connects pretty easily with students of all ages,” said director of Hispanic student development and diversity coordinator Daniel Searl. “It’s a chance to talk, sing along, interact with somebody who speaks another language, is from another culture, but has music as a common thread.”

That thread appears to be wound throughout Westminster. On one occasion, a few students joined Gabriel for an informal session to “jammear” one day, instruments and all, to another one of his songs called “Hacer el amor.”

“I didn’t know what to think at first because I don’t speak Spanish,” said freshman Gigi Pavur, “but he was a good musician, and he had a good voice and was really talented. So we made it work.”

Sharing music together was an important part of Gabriel’s stay, regardless of the language or culture – although he is fluent in English. “It was a really good experience to figure out how to play a song with someone even though you can’t completely understand them,” said freshman Isabelle Bellott-McGrath. “You can understand the music together, because music is universal.”

From a young age, Gabriel wanted to be a professional baseball player, a dream pushed by his father. Nevertheless, he started taking classes in vocal technique and music theory with his mother, despite not liking them at first. He began writing songs from the age of 11, forming a band with three of his friends called Rhapsody Blue. In 1999, Gabriel created a group that fused rock with Latin rhythms called the Enghels. The group lasted for six years and recorded a CD (“Heterogéneo,” 2003) that wasn’t released to the market. During his time with the Enghels, he learned how to play other instruments to add to his knowledge of the piano, guitar, and cuatro–the ukulele, the drums, the Cuban tres, congas, and Latin percussion–while also expanding his songwriting.

After graduating with a social communicator degree specializing in audiovisual art from the Universidad Católica Adrés Bello, Gabriel formed a blues and rock ‘n’ roll band called SITCOM, whose music focused on comedy and social satire. In 2007, they recorded the album “La Abadía del Pecado,” launched independently in 2008, in which Gabriel worked as a musical arranger and producer. Many native TV and radio personalities contributed to the album, and it became widely accepted in the Venezuelan rock scene. It enabled SITCOM to play several concerts at distinguished venues, principally in Caracas. The first single, “Ambas,” written by Gabriel himself, became so popular that it entered the top 20 songs in the “Pop ‘n’ Rock” chart of “Record Report.” The album sold close to 2,000 copies in Venezuela. The band broke up in 2009.

In 2012, Gabriel released “Se Busca Novia” as his first solo single, describing a man who is looking for his ideal woman in a classified ad. The song incorporates merengue and Latin rhythms mixed with romanticism, influenced by the music of Juan Luis Guerra and Carlos Vives. The music video was shot in Miami and produced by renowned Venezuelan musician Arturo Cabrera.

The first hints of a visit to Westminster started brewing when Searl talked with Gabriel in August 2012, having known him through mutual friends. Searl suggested that the singer spend time as an “artist in residence” at Westminster.

“I knew that he was a great musician, a singer, a vocal coach, and that he worked with students of all ages and could put on a pretty good show,” Searl said.

Gabriel’s multi-day stay allowed him to connect with many groups in a variety of ways.

“That allows you to build relationships – to get to see somebody not just speaking to a class, but talking at lunch or hanging out,” said Searl. “That ongoing relationship building is really important.”

Gabriel visited with every age group possible during his time at Westminster, from first graders through the seniors in Spanish seminar. The activities mainly involved song, dance, and music, but he also talked about politics, discussing the pseudo-dictator of Venezuela. He addressed his musical career and his development as a singer-songwriter and practiced his song with the chorus classes, a performance available on WCAT. Gabriel also performed at two local restaurants in the evenings, attended a Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast, and was interviewed on CNN en Español.

The opportunity to have the rising star visit was ideal, as his new album is only gaining popularity in South America.

“We’d love to have him back; his career is probably going to be going up, up, up, and I don’t know if we’ll have the chance,” Searl said.

Students can continue to connect with Gabriel through his Twitter, @egmusica, Instagram @egmusica1, and his Facebook page at

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