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Having mastered the technique of singing long ago, Nathan Pacheco could go toe-to-toe with the finest operatic tenors. But for Nathan, technique is, well, just a technicality, a tool for conveying emotion. In everything he sings – from Puccini to Leonard Cohen – feeling is all that counts. After making waves with the Voices project in 2009, this rising vocal superstar now takes the spotlight with his self-titled debut Disney Pearl album.
Produced by Leo Z (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, and Tom Hanks’ “Electric City”), the album showcases Nathan’s remarkable versatility. Over the 12 tracks, he sings in four languages and multiple genres, from pop to folk to opera. Few voices can pull off such a feat, but Nathan makes it look easy and sound beautiful. "All my efforts to master technique are for the sole purpose of connecting with people," he says. "That’s what I go for every time. The more control I have, the more freedom I have to express what I feel."
From the opening track, "Avatar," which he co-wrote, Nathan shows his hand: warm, passionate vocals conveying tales of love, hope and glory. “I love singing songs that are just beautiful,” he says. “Some, like ‘Avatar,’ are completely pop and have nothing to do with opera. Others focus on the classical side of singing. There’s no scientific formula: I just find great songs I can connect with.”
With his opera background, Italian comes naturally to Nathan, as is clear in power ballads like "Infinito Amore," "Caruso," and "La Scelta." Says Nathan, "For 15 years I’ve been singing in Italian. There’s something about the language that lends itself to my style. It allows my voice to soar.”
Keeping things Mediterranean, Nathan sings “Perdona” and “Oyela,” both performed in Spanish, as well as the lilting “Que L’Amour,” sung in French. And for good measure, Nathan does a soaring rendition of “Now We Are Free,” from the 2001 Oscar-winning film, “Gladiator.” The Washington, D.C. native grew up listening to classic American pop, showing his affinity on a stunning reworking of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” as well as on co-penned originals “Unbreakable,” the folk-flavored “Tears From Heaven” and “Don’t Cry.” Says Nathan, “I love writing as much as I love singing.”
And for true opera fans, Nathan sings Puccini’s timeless “Nessun Dorma,” but with the daringly contemporary orchestration. As much as he respects tradition, Nathan remains a forward-looking musical visionary eager to do music his way.
Growing up near the nation’s capital, Nathan developed a love for music as a child. His mother, a piano teacher, started Nathan early on with piano and violin lessons. Though basketball was his focus for a while, by high school he was a serious student of voice. “Classical was familiar because of the home I was raised in,” he recalls. “But then, as now, I listened to a wide variety of music that reaches me, whether Beethoven or Dave Matthews Band.”
There were other artists he loved: The Three Tenors, Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, each pioneers in pop-classical fusion. During his vocal studies at BYU he contemplated a similar path. After a mission to Brazil (the ancestral home of his grandfather) and a study-abroad program in Italy, Nathan rolled the dice and met with producer Ric Wake, who sought talented singers for a new project.
Recalls Nathan, “Ric said ‘We’re taking Yanni’s songs and putting lyrics to them. I want you to write lyrics and sing at the audition.” That’s precisely what he did, and once Yanni discovered Nathan’s voice and songwriting skills, they signed the singer up for the Voices project. He and three other singers wrote, recorded and ultimately performed 80 concerts across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That whirlwind led Nathan to sign with Disney Pearl. Once he and Italian-born multi-platinum composer/producer/songwriter Leo-Z joined forces, it was just a matter of picking the right songs. The new album was then recorded in Los Angeles and at London’s famed Air Lyndhurst Studios with The London Philharmonia Orchestra.
Last Christmas, Disney Pearl released the single "O’ Holy Night," a duet with Welsh multi-platinum mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. Eager to get back to live performing, Nathan then joined Jenkins on a sold-out 25-city U.K. tour with the London Symphony Orchestra. In December 2011, Nathan also performed his first headlining concert dates at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse, where he premiered songs from the new album in a special program in tribute to mentor Gil Cates.
Nathan appears in two all-new PBS concert specials, taped at Santa Monica’s Broad Theater, “Introducing Nathan Pacheco: Live In Concert” premieres August 11 and “Nathan Pacheco: Christmas” airs in December. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to sing live once the new album ships, as he will embark on his first headlining tour in November. Now living in Nashville, Nathan hopes fans enjoy listening to his music “as much as I love singing, because,” as he says, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop any time soon.”