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Gabriel Ayala - breaking ground and stereotypes with a classical masterpiece

VIRGINAI BEACH, Va. - Gabriel Ayala is a one-man symphony of sound. He is a classical guitarist, who;s new CD - ''Portraits'' - released by Canyon Records Explorer Series is bound for success. The arrangements, the depth of emotion and feeling contained within these songs is immense.

Gabriel Ayala plays the guitar the way Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel.

But the creation of ''Portraits'' is more than just another CD released by an American Indian artist. Canyon Records created the Canyon Explorer Series with Ayala in mind to break new ground and to dispel long held stereotypes of Native people.

Canyon Records has been specializing in the production of all types of American Indian music since 1951. But the production of non-traditional music has not been the mainstream.

According to Canyon, ''We are intrigued by a wide range of music, we created the Canyon Explorer Series to explore music from beyond traditional Native America emphasizing two genres: Classical Series (performed by Native artists) and World Music (from cultures outside North America.)''

Ayala's classical guitar CD ''Portraits'' is part of the Canyon Explorer Classical Series.

His way with the guitar is incredible. When listening to his arrangements the movements of his fingers can be heard, and the feeling of being transported to another place is felt. After listening to the album one is left knowing with absolute certainty this is a man who definitely knows how to play.

But the regard for Ayala's music was not always this way. At age 14, Ayala nearly threw away his guitar that had been in his closet. Ayala remembers the guitar he put away without ever even trying.

''I put it in my closet for about a year. My mother told me to sell it and keep the money. I told her, 'You know one day I'm going to be a famous guitar player, I can't sell it.' She was like, 'Whatever.'

''Finally I got money for strings, somebody helped me string it, I strummed it and I was like wow, I found my voice. From then on I was addicted to it.''

At 15, Ayala found himself in the world of MTV and Rock and Roll. He knew then he wanted to be a famous rock star.

''It was really easy for me to grasp the concept of reading music because I had already played other instruments. I was bored. I was wondering if there was more of a challenge and my teacher introduced me to classical. It was harder note reading. You have to use your right hand, all fingertips instead of a pick. I was like 'man, this is harder than rock and roll!'''

Ayala went to community college, and found himself way behind in guitar skills. Most classically trained guitarists start guitar as early as six years old. To add insult to injury, Ayala's audition only warranted a teaching major instead of musical performance.

Infuriated, Ayala practiced every waking moment. ''I practiced 8-10 hours a day. If I had 10 minutes between classes, I would practice for 10 minutes.''

Ayala's persistence paid off, eventually he was given the regard as a talented player. He transferred to Texas A&M and served as a faculty member for his community college.

Ayala was then awarded a full graduate scholarship for a Master's Degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Before he attended, Ayala met with heartache. He had just moved to Tucson and his apartment was not yet ready. Forced to sleep in his Bronco, he discovered a close family member had died before his entrance examination.

He almost quit and went back home - but a family member didn't let him. ''I was in a Motel 6, and I called my uncle. He said 'you can't come home. I won't let you.'''

Ayala was accepted and finished his education with a 4.0 average. He began to attend competitions and perform in small concerts. He was constantly bombarded with requests to put out his music. He relented and released his first self-titled album in 2003. Later, after working on it for two years, he released a Christmas album titled, ''I'll be Home for Christmas.'' His third CD was an album entitled ''Tango!'' which was released in 2008.

Eventually Canyon Records invited Gabriel to record and he was offered a contract. ''Portraits'' is his first release through Canyon.

Ayala comes to the forefront of native culture erupting with the idea that stereotypes need no longer exist for indigenous people. He is successful

with ''Portraits.''

For information on Gabriel Ayala's CD - ''Portraits'' you can visit or call (800) 268-1141.

For more information on Gabriel Ayala you can also visit