Olé, Radford told the youth inside the Jones High auditorium Monday, means optimistic leadership energy.
“It has to do with discovering your special talents... and loving what you do.”
Radford is renowned for his playing of flamenco style music and he used his talent not only to entertain the youth but to inspire them to follow their dreams and pursue whatever it is they have a talent to do.
“It is like a combination bluegrass country music, soul music all rolled into one,” he said describing flamenco. “It happens to be the original guitar music. A lot of folks don’t know that the guitar was originally invented in Spain.”
Redford was in Beeville this week performing at Coastal Bend College last Saturday and at various Beeville ISD schools during the week.
As Radford played, he encouraged the students to join in by not only clapping but shouting the traditional “Olé.”
“It is perfectly good etiquette at a flamenco or Spanish music performance to shout olé,” he said. “I don’t know how much they use olé around here, but in Spain it is an important word.”
His performance wasn’t just about music but also encouragement.
“When you discover your special talents... and you find a way to use those special talents... there is no limits to what you can accomplish,” he told the students.
While talent is important, he said, so is work.
“When I started playing the guitar, I found out you have to practice,” he said as described his transgression from a traditional, almost ordinary guitarist, to a renowned flamenco player.
Radford didn’t come by his career as a musician easily.
“I started when I was 7 years old,” he said. “My mom taught me to play the ukulele.
“When I got to be 10 years old, I decided I was going to a be real musician so I got a piano. I got to be a really good piano player after two years.
“In junior high school, they needed somebody to play cello. After two years of that, I got to be really good at playing the cello.”
“I said what I really wanted to do was play the guitar, so I got them to get me a guitar when I was 14 years old.”
Living in Tulsa, Okla., Radford first learned country and western style of plucking.
Eventually he learned jazz and blues as he attempted to find what it was that he wanted to play.
It wasn’t until a fishing trip one summer that he listened to a record of Carlos Montoya.
“I never heard the word flamenco. The minute I put this record on, it was love at first sound.
“I spent all summer trying to play this music. I drove everybody crazy playing this record over and over.
“I told everybody in town that I was going to go to Spain, live with the Spanish gypsies and learn to play real flamenco.”
His dream was met with skepticism by everyone.
“Even my own dad didn’t think I could do it.
“He used to wag his finger at me and say, ‘Son, you can’t make at a living at that. You have to get a real job.’
“He didn’t think being a musician was a real job.”
Well, Radford practiced and, just by chance, Carlos Montoya came to his hometown and Radford got to meet him.
“I had enough nerve to play for Carlos Montoya on my $15 guitar I got at a pawn shop,” he said.
Montoya offered Radford private lessons, at no charge, and, well, the rest is history.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.