I'll never forget how I felt performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at an Arizona Diamondbacks' baseball game, at Chase Field, in front of thousands of people. Being a local — I was born in Tucson, AZ — and singing in front of family and friends made this a special moment. But as a regional Mexican singer and the son of Mexican immigrants, the experience meant even more.
I'd never imagined that I'd get the chance to sing the American national anthem on such an important day for Arizonans, and at such an important place — I used to imagine myself as a baseball player in the field when I was little. Standing there, holding the microphone as a first-generation American, made me realize that anything is possible. I was proving to those who never believed in me, those who don't believe in Latinos, that we can do anything.
Even through the turmoil we're facing with President Donald Trump and his views on immigration, and with everything that has happened in Arizona in the past few years, I was able to conquer this milestone — through the war against Latinos.
Seeing my mother, brother, sister, and nieces in the crowd brought an unexplainable feeling. At that moment, I knew how proud my mom was to see me shine, but I also thought of everyone else there. I wanted all the other Latinos to see me and know that anything you set your mind to you can achieve. Having me sing the national anthem at a huge baseball game was a statement to the people of Arizona and everyone watching.
Growing up in the state, deportations were a common thing. People sometimes have a negative view of Mexican immigrants, but I believe that as an artist, I have to do everything I can to make sure people know I'm a proud Mexican, here to show you all wrong. My family and I got through obstacles to be here, and we don't regret it.
It's all about surrounding yourself with people who have the best interest in you and want to see you succeed, and Latinos want their own kind to succeed more than anyone else. Hispanics — from Mexico, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic, wherever it may be — we all come from the same place. We stick together.
I'm very proud to be Latino. I'm proud that my parents are immigrants and because of their sacrifices I'm able to do what I do now with my career and my life. No matter what happens, no matter what restrictions get put on us, we are people, and we're here to make a living and do our best.
After the national anthem, I was able to perform a full set of my songs. White people, black people, Asians, Hispanics: people of every race stayed in their seats and supported me, because I was one of their own — an Arizonan. They welcomed me. They sang along, smiled . . . it made me feel confident, supported. That's why I will never leave Arizona. It's my home; it's where my heart is.