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Meet Joel Lopez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joel Lopez.

Hi Joel, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
My journey began when I was just 3 years old. I began to play drums on my mom’s pots and pans and started showing signs that music just might be in my DNA. My parents raised me in the church, Spanish church and I began to develop my musical gifts in the church from a very young age. Being a Puerto Rican born in Chicago, ILL, and raised in Orlando, Florida, I’m just grateful for my Latino culture and that I was able to experience and embrace all that came with it. I have no doubt that I was being molded for my life assignment and purpose while I was growing up in the Spanish church. Crazy to think, but I never forget church lasted about three hours, and worship alone lasted over an hour. If you can imagine, what some will call a praise break, our praise breaks were in a Latin style of music, with cowbell, tambourines, and percussion instruments. Actually, the members of the church would bring their minor percussion instruments and play along, sometimes off-timing. Whatever the worship leader sang as a musician, we would have to follow, and that’s how I developed my ear for music, the worship leader would start singing, and we would figure out what key they were singing in the flow. 

When I was 11 years old, we relocated to Orlando, Florida; at that point, I knew a few chords on the piano, and the worship director of the church (Sammy Perez) who was one of the biggest influences on my life, saw that I had potential on the piano and he said “man you have a natural gift of music you should start developing yourself on the piano” He immediately gave me an opportunity and helped me develop my gift for the piano. Not just me but he helped hundreds of other young people who are now walking in their purpose. So, I’d like to pause here and ask you a question. Who are you developing? Who are the people in your reach that may only know “a few chords on the piano” that you can pour into as a leader? I ask this because I believe that a true legacy is when you empower others and help people discover their God-given gifts. Shortly after meeting Sammy, I met some of my very best friends, my brothers, and musician colleagues. We were the same age, between 11-13years old. Jessie Caraballo (Drummer) and Janiel Caraballo (Bass Player) These guys were amazingly talented; they stretched my talent to another level just by playing music with them. We instantly became a trio. 

Sammy, our mentor, would pick us up, drive hours, and would open the church for us so we could rehearse and arrange the songs for the worship set on the weekends. We just loved jamming. We could spend hours playing music. It was during that time that we learned about Gospel sound and that soulful style of music. We just fell in love with that style of music, so we began to practice Gospel music, and our creative juices began to kick in. We began to fuse our Latin style of music with gospel music. It was special. 3 kids, 11 years old, just passionately doing what we loved and developing our God-given gifts not knowing the seeds that we were planting would turn into a movement 23 years later. I’ll get to that shortly. As I grew older, I continued practicing and learning my craft, I got into producing music, I branched out and began playing corporate gigs and conventions, and I also began traveling with several artists. I started to sharpen some of the leadership gifts I was given and grew in many different areas in my life. During all this time, it was rare that I missed a Sunday at church. I was a church musician at heart, my parents raised me in the church. It was just part of my DNA. And so, during my teenage years and 20s, God began to shape me and prepare me for my calling and the next season of life. 

Fast forward to 2019. My brothers and I are now married with children, working in our separate careers. One day in a conversation, we talked about making a cover song of a popular worship song, “Do It Again” by Elevation worship. We talked about re-arranging this song with a Latin twist; we were so excited and began the process. It felt just like the old days when we were just 11 years old. During the process, we invited our friends Mercy Brass, a four-piece brass section made up of some of the best horn players in the country to join us for this rendition. Once we finished the arrangement, it was time to select a singer. It was strongly imprinted in my heart that we should use a Gospel singer, so we invited Daniel Johnson, a world-renowned Gospel singer, to join us and sing the lead parts of the song. You see, this arrangement was turning into this big fusion, a popular American worship song arranged in a Latin style with a gospel singer. As we began to release some of the behind-the-scenes of the creative process of this song, we noticed that some people weren’t receptive to this type of composition. People began to ask why we would fuse Latin music with a Gospel/Soulful type singer. In their minds, a Latin singer should be singing this rendition because it was a Latin arrangement. 

That’s when I immediately realized something was off. Our world is sometimes stuck in a box. We like to compartmentalize and create division. But I strongly believe that if there’s anything that can transcend cultures, generations, and ethnic barriers is music. I really felt in my heart that this release was going to break barriers. So, we released it, and wow, the impact that this song had blown our minds; we’ve reached millions of people from all walks of life who connect and embrace this style of music. In our minds, we were just creating a cover of a song for fun, but there would be more to it; a movement was being born, and Unified Sound was born. What we were doing at the age of 11years old in church just having fun creating and fusing music, had a greater purpose. The purpose of unify a sound of music that can bring people of all cultures together. 

Today, Unified Sound is just getting started. This movement consists of world-renowned musicians and vocalists. In just 3 short years, we released our first album which has already been considered for Grammy and Dove award nominations. We’ve experienced full-house concerts and are in the process of recording our biggest project yet, a live recording that will be captured in early 2023. For all of this, we give Glory to God. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Anything significant, especially with a mission of unifying people comes with challenges. We’ve experienced different oppositions. Such as criticism, I’ve had to overcome my own insecure thoughts. The workload is heavy, and the process of recording and gathering different people from different backgrounds can sometimes create tension, however, when we focus on the mission and the main purpose, we are always able to overcome whatever comes our way. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Unified Sound is simply a movement of some of today’s world-class musicians and singers. It’s no question that the fusing of culture through their sound and musical arrangements has brought a glimpse of heaven’s sound to earth. Unified Sound’s mission is to simply create authentic and excellent music done at the highest level with a message of hope. There’s no doubt that Unified Sound’s tasty Latin rhythms of Salsa fused with pop, soul, and a positive message is bound to make you dance, sing, and make you feel a sense of Hope, joy, and Love Unified Sound consists of world-class, and touring musicians and each team member contributes to the production and arrangements of our music. 

Our team is made up of: 

Music Producer and Arranger: Joel Lopez. 

Co-producer and Percussionist: Jessie Caraballo 

Bassist / Arranger: Janiel Caraballo 

Trombone / Arranger: Bayron Ramos 

Trumpet/Arranger: Gerardo Enrique Rodriguez 

Trumpet/ Arranger: Osvaldo Fleites. 

Saxophonist/Arranger: Roilan Vazquez 

Guitarist/Arranger: Ruben Lopez 

This team is committed to the vision of Unified Sound. We’ve all come together knowing that music is powerful, that specifically, the rhythms of Latin music have the power to bring Joy. They want to put a smile on and inspire hope through a positive message with a fuse of Latin rhythms, soul, pop, gospel, and many other styles. This is what sets us apart. We embody a unified musical approach, and we are honored and proud of this assignment. 

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
We are all about collaborating and helping move this mission forward. We are always on the search for new talent. We want to raise up and give opportunities to the up-and-coming talent that feels called to this vision; Truth is we need to continue to gather resources for this mission. Part of our vision is to equip and train other musicians, singers, and church leaders on how to embrace this sound and vision of unifying the body through a Unified Sound; we are grateful for all who can partner with us. 

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