Mariachi Student Becomes First Californian and First Latino to Win National Talent Competition

Congratulations to LBC mariachi student Adrian Soto, winner of the 75th Annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) talent competition at the 96th annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 16-year-old is the first student from California and the first Latino to win the top prize, which includes not only a $250 cash prize, but, perhaps more important, the honor of representing his heritage so successfully.

Adrian performed as a solo vocalist at the competition amid a field of 28 other talented contestants from across the United States. As an integral part of LBC’s advanced level Mariachi Cantares de mi Tierra de LBC, he also plays the vilheula, an instrument shaped like a guitar but tuned like a lute.

“I am happy to represent my school, Santa Rosa, my state, and FFA through all this,” said the 11th grader from Santa Rosa High, where he is an active member of the school’s FFA chapter. “I am so proud to represent my family and my culture.”

To get to the national convention, last spring, Adrian competed and won first place in the talent competition at the California State FFA convention held in Ontario, CA.

In Indianapolis, Adrian succeeded in three rounds of intense competition to reach the finals, where he performed in front of a live audience of more than 70,000 at Lucas Oil Stadum. He secured the top prize with a specially arranged piece, “Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero” (“How Much I Love You”) that includes lyrics in English and Spanish.

Adrian performed in a custom-designed navy blue traje (uniform) embellished with FFA symbols of owls, flowers, and the FFA emblem. Following the competition, he offered to donate the one-of-a-kind traje to the FFA museum, located in Indianapolis, to share with thousands of patrons who visit each year.

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