This past August Sam Santiago and his family from Irvine, California spent a week of their vacation to visit my home city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a wonderful time getting to know Sam better, and being able to spend quality time with his family and Sebastian, a good friend of Sam’s older brother Penuel!
Staying only a few minutes from my home, it made it easy to travel back and forth from the Hotel to the house to meet every day for some special time together. We spent the entire week traveling around the city, seeing the sights, visiting parks, and of course doing lots of singing both in the car and at special engagements.
Sam is such an energetic fellow and is full of life and fun. Not unlike any other Nine year old, Sam loves to play video games and especially enjoyed our time at the Go Cart -Video Arcade called Craig’s Cruisers . The boys and I played laser tag, rode go carts, and enjoyed a game of mini golf before the day was over. His family also enjoyed visiting a small nearby tourist town on the bay featuring very unusual art and specialty items sold in small shops and stores.
Sam picked up a new hat at one of the shops which came in handy a little later that week for one of his performances.
Sam is always practicing his vocal skills. Even when he is just traveling in the car Sam is continually singing. There is no doubt that this boy loves to sing. On one occasion while traveling to one of the sightseeing points, Sam and I broke into our own cover of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” with Sam leading the way and me following with the harmony while trying to remember the words. Lol 🙂 What fun that was!
Sam did three performances while he was visiting. His first performance was for my local church assembly where he sang his medley of “As the Deer & I love you Lord”. He brought many to tears with his rendition of this song then raised the roof singing “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. Everyone was standing on their feet as Sam was leading the entire congregation in this second worship song!
What the congregation did not know is that Sam had only learned this song the day before! He not only hit every note but remembered every word perfectly. Amazing Sam!
The next day brought a lot of excitement and started very early! We had to leave in plenty of time to allow for traffic and arrive at the TV station at least one hour prior to the live interview. This was very exciting for Sam being it was his first Live TV performance.
Enjoy these two videos that includes a little behind the scenes look at our time at WZZM and of the actual interview for those of you who have not yet seen it!
Sam did an amazing job both with the interview and with the song. The actual television time was much longer than what you see here but since the program is called Take Five they try to get these segments down to 5 minutes including the interview. Producer, Eddie Rucker, who authorized Sam’s appearance, confessed that she gets hundreds of e-mails everyday asking for one five minute slot on the show. Many famous entertainers and musicians have appeared on this program, and we are so grateful for Sam to have been giving this opportunity! Thank you Eddie!
In addition, we found the entire staff at WZZM to be professional and friendly. Our hat is off to all of you for making us feel so welcome, relaxed and special!
Following the Television performance that morning, we took advantage of the beautiful weather outside to do an exclusive interview with Sam and his entire family. I offer this to you now, so you can personally meet Sam and his wonderful family that I am so blessed to call friends.
If all this activity was not enough, we finished out our week at the Radisson Inn Hotel, beautifully set overlooking the Grand River just north of downtown Grand Rapids. Following a suggestion from my good neighbor Andy Kroll, I had arranged for Sam to sing the previous week at an evening patio buffet, which is put on every Friday evening by the management. The entertainment features some of the best amateur singers from the area who return every week to perform. This is not just the normal Karaoke Show! Everyone who is selected to sing is very good and always entertains the guests and visitors of the Hotel.
We expected Sam to sing one or maybe two songs but after his first Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing” the Master of Ceremonies told him to stick around to do a second song.
Sam’s second song was Joseph Brooks, “You Light Up My Life”, which concluded with a special request by one of the weekly singers for Sam to do a third number. The house was on its feet and dancing when Sam belted out “Lights” by Journey. This brought the owner of the Hotel over to our table requesting Sam to perform one more song!
We were so honored by this reception from the crowd who at times was so loud you could not even hear some of the other entertainers. But when Sam took the stage for his last song,”Separate Ways” by Journey, a quieter mood came over the crowd with many giving a standing ovation as Sam belted out his last note! Sam was the only one to receive this kind of response all evening! “We are so proud of you Sam!”
I will never forget that night of Sam’s performances and how well he was received! Sam handed out many business cards and even received some leads for upcoming performance opportunities in California.
Sam Santiago is a true star on the rise! It doesn’t matter where he performs, a small gathering for a party, a church service setting, on the stage at a fair or festival, a large sport stadium, or just privately in the car or at home, every time he sings he puts his whole being into his performance.
I’m predicting now that Sam Santiago will someday be a household name and this is one blogger and supporter that is incredibly happy to be along for the ride!
Thank you Sam and Family for visiting with me this summer! Please know that you are welcome to come as many times a year that you can break away! The City of Grand Rapids will always roll out the red carpet and that carpet will always lead to my front door!
Don’t forget to leave Sam a Comment below! I know he will be delighted to hear from all of you!