Students rose to their feet with applause and cheers as Nurilys Cintron ’15, a Post-Graduate from Lawrence, Mass., finished singing her soulful rendition of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse during last Wednesday’s All-School Meeting (ASM). Accompanied by Jack Orne ’15 on the guitar, Cintron’s powerful voice sang the arching melody, holding the highest notes with rich vibrato.
Although ASM was the first time many Andover students saw Cintron perform, it will not be the last.
“I love watching people’s reactions whenever I sing. It’s always great to feel appreciated by my peers and the audience. Also, life just seems to get a little easier whenever I sing. As cliché as it seems, something about it just gives me the feeling that I’m letting go of any frustration. I get to channel my anger or sadness into any song I like,” said Cintron.
While Cintron now thrives off of performing for audiences, it was not until a school trip in eighth grade that she discovered her love and aptitude for singing.
“We were on our way back from the trip on a coach bus, and there was a microphone at the front that projected your voice throughout the whole bus. As a joke, I grabbed the microphone and started singing. All of my friends told me to keep on singing for the whole bus ride. That was the first time I sang in public, and that was when I realized that I had a talent,” she said.
Since then, Cintron has worked tirelessly to perfect her voice. She practices singing regularly, choosing increasingly challenging pieces to push her to a higher level.
“My favorite song that I have sung is ‘I Am Changing’ from the musical ‘Dreamgirls.’ I never thought that I’d be able to sing Jennifer Hudson. [Hudson’s voice is] so high up, so it’s a very vocally challenging song,” said Cintron.
Cintron draws inspiration from Hudson, as well as Whitney Houston and Beyoncé, because of their vocal talent and status as racial minorities in mainstream music.
“As a Latina, I love watching plays and musicals that relate to me. If there’s someone that reminds me of myself, it inspires me to work toward a similar goal. I see myself in them, and the stigma of being a Latina woman suddenly slips away and I feel like I am capable of being as great as them,” said Cintron. “I know for sure that in the future, I want Latinas, especially in my hometown, Lawrence, to think of me as someone they can look up to. The stereotype of someone from Lawrence is talked down so much, and I would love to be a major part of the reason it changes.”
Cintron’s family, especially her mother, is another source of motivation.
“It’s mostly my mom and my family’s support that inspire me. My mother specifically has always loved to watch me perform, so it inspires me that to this day that she never gets tired of watching me perform,” said Cintron.
Cintron’s family has encouraged her to sing in various vocal competitions, including Merrimack Valley Idol, a local singing contest in which Cintron won first place.
“Although I don’t like being an outright competitive person, it’s nice to know that I deserve being noticed for what I’m good at. Merrimack Valley Idol, amongst other competitions I have done, was a way to be recognized as a person who loves what she does and is good at it as well,” said Cintron in an email to The Phillipian. “I’m normally not nervous while competing, because whenever I compete, I know that I have done everything I could to prepare for the competition. If I ever mess up, it won’t be because I didn’t work my absolute hardest.”
Though Cintron sings competitively, her true passion lies in entertaining others. Since coming to Andover, Cintron has performed at Coffeehouse in addition to ASM. She has also joined Fidelio Society, Azure and Chorus, groups that provide many performance opportunities.
“I love seeing people’s reactions and feeling the vibe. Being anywhere on stage, on Broadway or off-Broadway, at any point would be great,” said Cintron. “I know that for sure, anywhere I go, I’m going to keep singing and keep performing — always. I just need to continue reminding myself that performing is what I love to do and that I’m not doing it to compete with the others.”
Cintron will perform at Grasshopper Night this weekend.