Wauwatosa native Rob Gonzalez didn't pick music, music picked him.
By the time the Wauwatosa East High School graduate was 16-years-old, he was playing professional gigs around the Milwaukee area. It's been 25 years since Gonzalez graduated high school and four since being in his home state; however, he is now returning to host an acoustic performance in Milwaukee, close to his family that continues to reside in Wauwatosa.
Music piqued Gonzalez's interest at age 5 when he sat at a piano and began making up his own songs. That fresh talent was turned into a career as Gonzalez, who now lives in Los Angeles, has found success in the music industry.
Much to his parents' dismay, Gonzalez would spend nights pursuing his dream to be a musician throughout his high school years.
"I'm going out on a school night playing gigs and I come home with $75 in my hand and my parents were both frustrated and impressed," he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "It was my dream as a kid to do this and it was scary to move forward but I made the decision and went professional at 19 so I was pretty young, but it was the right decision."
Gonzalez has continued to find success in the music business ever since with four solo albums and thousands of shows.
Most recently, he has collaborated with The Backstreet Boys singer Kevin Richardson. This past December, Gonzalez and Richardson headlined a benefit concert in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gonzalez organized and produced the concert that benefited The Angeles Clinic Foundation, a cancer research and treatment center in Santa Monica, Calif.
In 2005, Gonzalez signed a production deal after being discovered by producer Mark Mazzetti, who has represented artists such as Sting. Earlier this month, he released a new single called "The Answer."
Gonzalez draws inspiration from both classic rock musicians such as Van Morrison and jazz artists including Ray Charles.
"I combine those styles into what is my style," he said.
He draws much of his inspiration for his original songs from his life experiences and the people he has met.
During the early part of his career, Gonzalez spent time touring the college circuit across the United States. Putting more than 200,000 miles on two vehicles, he met people from all walks of life and paid close attention to their stories.
"I sort of built a catalog of characters in my head and I write a short story or novel for those characters, but I base my songs on something that's happened to me or someone I know," he said.
Gonzalez will bring his original songs, as well as his "interpretation of cover songs" to the Milwaukee stage Saturday at The Cabot Theater, housed inside the Broadway Center Theater, 158 N. Broadway, in a one-man classical music show. The show will be a compilation of music and stories from his life that all began in the Sheraton Lawns neighborhood of Wauwatosa.
"It won't be a stale classical music show where everyone has to be very quiet and fall asleep in their chair," Gonzalez said. "I try to get people to get up and out of their seats and dance and it's a much more fun and engaging show than people think it's going to be. There's a lot of humor that people really love."
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Wauwatosa native hosts acoustic concert
WHEN: June 30
WHERE: The Cabot Theater, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee
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