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Q&A with musician Tony Melendez

Michaela Roman
Tony Melendez is interviewed before his performance at the Sun Bowl during “Two Nations, One Faith.”

Born with the gift of musical talent, guitarist, signer, composer and songwriter Tony Melendez has made an impact in the music world.

Melendez is unlike most guitarists—he plays with his feet.

He was born without arms and has made sure that his disability doesn’t stop him from making music.

His unique style has allowed him to play all over the world and also for Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Melendez performed in front of nearly 28,000 people at the Sun Bowl, where he was one of the entertainers at the “Two Nations One Faith” papal celebration mass on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

He spoke with The Prospector and shared his excitement about the pope’s visit to the border and his role in the papal celebration at the Sun Bowl.

Q: How did you get the invitation to play at this event?

A: I got a personal invitation by (El Paso) Bishop (Mark) Seitz and first we get a call from head of office and his people and then he (Pope Francis) actually called me personally, which I felt very honored. So it is a gift to be a part of this event.

Q: What is your relationship with El Paso?

A: I love El Paso, I’ve been through here many times. Every time during Christmas and New Years, I would drive from Missouri to LA or from LA to Missouri and this was kind of the halfway point.

Q: What do you hope people who have never seen you get from your performance today?

A: You’ll see a guy playing the guitar with no arms, and you know at first it’s kind of like “that can’t be real,” but you know I really believe that after a song, a song and a half, it turns into real music and people start getting involved and start singing and clapping along and it inspires them. That’s where I know our good Lord is taking over and touching hearts beyond what Tony Melendez can keep doing. I play the guitar, yes, but I know it goes way beyond that.

Q: Considering that you are not from here, what is your outsiders’ perspective on Pope Francis’ visit to the border?

A: The pope is going to prisons, he is meeting with some of the immigrants that are stuck, you know on their way somewhere—you know I really believe, as an immigrant myself, you dream big and never let your dream die especially, if it is for good, especially if it is for your family, if it’s to help you, and I’m not talking just financially. But I hope that it takes you to a better level for your heart, for your family, for you, and that’s what my main prayer for anyone would be.

Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Amanda Guillen, Editor-in-Chief
Amanda Guillen is a senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in women's studies. She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and graduated from El Paso High School in 2011. She has been a part of The Prospector since summer 2013 and is currently Managing Editor. She has always had a passion for journalism and plans to become a television news reporter upon graduating from UTEP. In addition to being a full-time student and reporter, she is a part of two honor societies on campus, Alpha Lambda Delta and the National Society of Leadership and Success where she participates in community service regularly. Amanda also interns for KVIA Channel 7 the El Paso affiliate of ABC. Her love for the city of El Paso is something that led her to choose UTEP as her school of choice. She has enjoyed her past 3 years at the university and looks forward to an eventful school year.
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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Q&A with musician Tony Melendez