Singing Nathan Pacheco's Praises
by adam erace
Nathan Pacheco has toured the world with Yanni and Welsh mezzosoprano Katherine Jenkins.
Perched within view of Nathan Pacheco’s childhood home in Northern Virginia is the Dulles air traffic control tower. Considering the budding star’s current jet-set schedule, you have to wonder if it was a sign. “I’m traveling a lot,” the 32-year-old vocalist says today from his adopted home of Nashville. He’s fresh from performances in Chicago and Salt Lake City that promoted the release of his self-titled debut album. Later in the day he’ll take off to DC, go on to Connecticut, and then back to Chicago, where he’ll perform the national anthem at a White Sox game; he returns to the Windy City for a Bulls game. “I’m so excited for that. As a kid, I was a huge Jordan and Pippen fan.”
It is the kind of thrill Pacheco feels these days when visiting the District, the city that will always be his real home. The singer was just in town on November 11 to perform at the Music Center at Strathmore.
“I loved growing [up] in the DC area,” says Pacheco. “It’s a very cultured place, where I was exposed to many types of things, including music. [DC] has played a role in who I am.” He offhandedly describes the house he grew up in as “typical,” if typical means having a music room with two pianos—one grand and one upright—and six siblings practicing various instruments and singing.
“That’s where I learned piano and violin and when I started studying singing,” says Pacheco. “[M]y mom taught piano out of the house; that was a huge influence…. Before school, we’d get up and practice piano. There was a discipline instilled in us to achieve excellence.”
That work ethic stuck. “Seven, eight years ago I couldn’t even hit high notes—the money notes—and as a tenor, if you can’t do that, there’s not even a point,” he says. “But through practice, I’ve made progress little by little, and that’s why where I am now is so fulfilling.”
Today Pacheco is arguably one of the hottest crossover solo acts since the likes of Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli gained international fame more than a decade ago. He has toured the world with performers such as Greek pianist Yanni and Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. Along with Walt Disney Records and composer Leo Z, he produced a full-length album, a compilation of covers including “Nessun Dorma” and an elegant rendition of “Hallelujah,” as well as originals such as the catchy, pop-forward “Avatar.” His new PBS holiday special, Nathan Pacheco Christmas, airs in December. And in Grobanesque fashion, when Pacheco hits the high notes, his voice soars and thrills audiences both young and old.
The comparison to these crossover artists is okay with Pacheco. “I am definitely flattered by [it]. I didn’t always know I wanted to do this, but listening and hearing the passion in their music, I felt… home. If I have half the success they have had, I’ll be just fine.”
photography by Aaron Rapoport
We hear from our panel of experts.