Q Feature Artist: Ricky Valenz

It’s an early Saturday morning on the south side of Lansing Michigan. Breakfast is cooking, salsa music (Marc Anthony) is blasting from the stereo that Ricky Valenz’s Puerto Rican mother has on. In another room there are sounds of live Acoustic strumming’s from Valenz’s father playing his guitar. In the basement there are sounds of a current baseball game from Valenz’s older athletic brother and older cousins. Then all the way upstairs in the room that sits across from Valenz bedroom are the sounds of George Michael coming from the headphones of Valenz’s sister and other girl cousins. All of the sudden you here a loud pound and a yell up the stairs “U GUYS!! COME DOWN, BREAKFAST IS READY!!! HURRY UP BEFORE IT GETS COLD!!”

In the room across the hall sits a curly head lil boy and his cousin posing in front of the mirror with combs, reciting all the lines from the movie “LA BAMBA”, and acting out all the parts, of course Ricky was always “Ritchie Valens” from the movie. There also was also a stereo in his room, which next to it sat his collection of cd’s and tapes that consisted of Jodeci, R. Kelly, Boyz II Men, Aaron Hall, Brian Mcknight, Bell Biv Devoe, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Marc Anthony, Jay Perez, 2 Pac, NWA, Easy E, Bone Thugs n Harmony etc, and a broad range of different music.

Valenz comes from a musical family. His Father Roberto Villarreal was one of Michigan’s top guitarists in the early 70’s, was a member of the Michigan super band “LATIN SOUNDS” which played a variety of music from Funk, Latin Funk to Tejano/Mexican music.. Ricky’s biological mother Armilla Villarreal (Hernandez) was also a vocalist and had sang as a lead singer in a Milwaukee band for over 15 years.. So along with the influences of R&B, soul, funk, tejano, classic light rock from both bio-logical parents, Valenz’s step-mother Juanita Villarreal who was Puerto Rican also loved to sing dance and play Salsa, Bachata and other Puerto Rican music which has and will continue to be a big influence on Ricky Valenz, and not just music but the culture as a whole.

This is all a picture of the early years of the house that built the musical artist Ricky Valenz and what has all added to his broad character and ability to adapt or be a chameleon in music, relationships or any type of situation which also makes Valenz relatable to almost any person he comes in contact with. Before moving to San Antonio, Ricky found work as an executive assistant to Michigan’s Governor. However, his heart had another dream to fulfill: Music.

From his professional launch in 2011, you can here a mix of Marc Anthony, Jay Perez, Jodeci, Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, to Brian Mcnight all the way to Tupac Shakur, Diddy Combs. One of main things you will get when you here Ricky Valenz, is a straight R&B/Soul/Hip Hop sound with a Latino flair to it. Early that year, Valenz reconnected with a high school friend/producer Michael “Sycko” Lopez and together they produced his first cross over Tejano CD. Eventually along with his music Ricky wants to transition into acting. “Valenz has much soul in voice, and fans are able to trace his influences back in his sound which creates a very unique blend. Very excited to work and continue working with him,” says Lopez.

Against all odds, Ricky has transformed the Tejano industry and seemlessly integrated into the “New Movement”, an underground stable of young artists with millennial appeal. In 2012, he won “Best Male Vocalist” at the Tejano Music Awards. And although Valenz doesn’t consider himself a fluent Spanish speaker, he sings more than half of his songs in Spanish, because he likes the idea of holding onto tradition and culture.

“There are a lot of new great artists coming out — some are bringing rock, techno, or tribal,” explains Valenz about the current state of techno. “I see a lot of change coming…there are a lot of people who like traditional tejano, but you have a little for everybody.”

(Excerpts From Reverb Nation)