My good friend Eileen Faxas is a very, very talented woman. I met her about a dozen years ago when she arrived at the TV station where I worked, WJKS, as a reporter. I instantly learned that she could really tell a story. She also spoke both English and Spanish at a literary level. And I learned as I got to know her that she was also an excellent musician - and a painter.
Eileen was born in Miami, the daughter of Cuban refugees. Her mother was a Pedro Pan kid.
"My mom says I sang before I spoke," she says with a charm that might surprise those accustomed to her reporter persona. "I liked to imitate Doris Day and Nat King Cole."
The quote is from an article in The Houston Chronicle. After Jacksonville, Eileen moved on to Phoenix, then to a station in Houston where she worked as an investigative reporter. She won Emmys. But, she always remembered her roots.
"I went to a performing-arts high school in Miami, and then went to the University of Miami. This is where the saga begins," Faxas says. "I double-majored in music and in broadcast journalism. The crucial moment came when I graduated. I chose journalism because, as the first American born in my family, I felt an obligation to make something of myself. There was a plan I could follow and a job I could apply for. With music, it doesn't matter if you have a degree, you don't know where to start. I didn't want to do that to everybody, with all of the student loans and the dreams invested in me, so I went into journalism. I loved it. I did it well."
Then she got fed up with the TV business. She recorded an album, quit her TV job, and began singing professionally.
Tonight, she's appearing at The Twelve Spot in Houston - 218 Travis Street. Stop reading blogs, get out of the house and go to see her.
Eileen also comes home to Miami every few months and has been promoting her CD there, too. So you goobers in Miami need to buy it.
Or, you can hear samples from the album and buy it on line at her web site - EileenFaxas.com.
Update - George Moneo, blogging at Babalu, writes about great success Cuban-Americans have had in the U.S. Eileen Faxas is one of those success stories.