Bilingual singing duo Hiram Garcia and Angel Reyes discuss their debut album, Pasos de Fe (Walk of Faith), and the next step in their musical journey, Alcanzando una Promesa (Reaching a Promise).
By: John Sotomayor Photos by: Conan Segrest
The development of the novice musical duo, Hiram y Angel (Hiram and Angel) and their first album, Pasos de Fe (Walk of Faith) could best be described as a test of faith.
Released two years ago, Hiram Garcia and Angel Reyes distributed their debut album through CD Baby, an online music store specializing in the sales of CDs, vinyl records and music downloads from independent musicians. They also applied their own method of guerilla marketing — promoting their work as a ministry, performing their music at church functions, including the fifth annual God Belongs in My City Prayer Walk in 2016, and promoting on Christian radio.
“We were blessed,” said Reyes.
They were blessed indeed. Most of the instrumentals they used were leased from various producers, and the duo did all the mixing and songwriting themselves. Two years later, they are almost ready to launch their second album.
“The reason we wanted to continue what we started with the first CD is, it was a long, hard process, but trusting in God, we knew it was going to happen, so we knew there would be a major blessing because of it,” said Reyes. “After its completion, we can now see the blessing that occurred because of the work, which is how it has touched other people’s lives. We are now reaching what God has asked of us.”
Their next album currently under production is appropriately named Alcanzando una Promesa (Reaching a Promise).
What is that promise? Simply put, if you apply yourself to do God’s work, and not for selfish cause, then you will be blessed by God. Put another way, helping others is food for the soul. The blessings earned are not physical, satisfying carnal desire, but spiritual — application on a much deeper level.
Like most of us, this spiritual path for Garcia and Reyes was not initially taken. The road unilluminated, the necessary steps were not so clear.
The Perilous Road (Commonly Traveled)
“The topics we cover in our album are relatable to many — the hard trials in people’s lives such as financial loss, a bad relationship or a breakup,” said Garcia. “ “But unlike conventional music, our Christian music offers hope to those who have faith in God.”
The majority of their songs come from personal experience.
The song Que Voy a Hacer (What Am I Going To Do) was written about a young man they know who was bullied in high school and because of it, contemplated suicide. Shortly after the song was written, Garcia witnessed another young man attempting suicide along railroad tracks. Garcia approached the man calmly and asked him to talk about what was going on.
Garcia was able to stabilize the man and keep him calm until the police arrived.
“It [the event and outcome] confirmed that God was with us,” said Garcia. “God speaks to us in his own way.”
The experience impacted Garcia profoundly. It did not go unnoticed by him that the man who had lost his way was helped by someone who had also once been lost, but now was found.
Garcia has loved music as long as he could remember. By the age of 7, he was singing at church. As time went on, his family moved frequently. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Garcia’s family moved to Redding, Pennsylvania, then to Puerto Rico.
As a teenager, Garcia moved to Ocala in 2004. By then, he had developed an interest in secular music, specifically hip-hop. He wrote his lyrics to those styles, but the more he pursued that route, the more opportunities eluded him.
Garcia grew restless and discontent. By 2014, he pursued a lifestyle of drugs, which progressed rapidly. It led to a DUI arrest. He saw this as God’s wakeup call. Through counseling, he turned his life around, and shortly after, together with Reyes, began work on their first album, Pasos de Fe.
The Peril-less Road (Walking with God)
Reyes learned how to play instruments at an early age, and was challenged by a cousin to pursue music. He partnered with another friend before Garcia and began performing in small venues, mostly school and church events. He decided this was something he could pursue professionally.
Reyes met Garcia through a cousin Garcia had dated at the time. Aware of his troubles, Reyes stood by him, being there for him. Together, they decided to be serious about music and pursue it as a duo.
In the beginning, Reyes place his personal pursuits of fame and glory first. Like Garcia, he saw opportunities closing, even dwindling. Placing God first changed that.
Reyes noticed that secular music promoted a superficial and selfish lifestyle. Lyrics promoted lavish spending on material goods and mistreatment of others, especially women. He disagreed with those messages, instead seeing his mission to promote positive values through music.
“What people listen to now is madness,” said Reyes. “I want to put music out there that creates happiness, not hostility.”
The message Hiram and Angel wish to present with their new album, an extension of their first, is that by walking with God, we avoid the pitfalls of life we create for ourselves. Fear and anger are shackles that bound us to hardship. By walking in faith, we are free. That does not mean we will lead a life without peril. But if we stand with God, it will be manageable.
Their song Huellas en la Arena (Footprints in the Sand) speaks to the well-known parable, which Garcia simplifies as, “No matter what we are going through, God is there for us.”
Hiram and Angel feel it is important to relay with their music that life will always be fraught with trials and tribulations. Too often, Christian music is sugar coated with positivity without conveying the realism that we will face hardships that must be overcome.
“We are reminding others, just because you are or become a Christian who follows Christ, doesn’t mean everything will become better automatically,” said Reyes. “You will face trials and obstacles, but now when you are with Christ, you have a solution — an answer on what to do for what you are going through.”
“It does get easier,” added Garcia.
As their career and personal experiences attest, walking with faith will reach the promise.
- Reyes is a Worship Team Leader at his church, Ministerio Unido en Cristo de Marion Oaks (Ministry United in Christ of Marion Oaks). If you would like to join or for more information, visit ministeriounidosencristo.com
- Reyes volunteered with hurricane relief efforts last year by both Hurricane Irma, which affected Florida, and Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico.
- Garcia recent joined the Florida Multicultural District (FMD) Youth Ministries, based in Orlando, which reaches out to teens and young adults, listed as “the unreachable, the misfits, fatherless, motherless, loners and hopeless,” providing guidance, hope and love through Jesus Christ. To learn more, visit fmdag.org
- Hiram Garcia was born and raised in New Jersey, then moved around until landing in Puerto Rico before ultimately residing in Ocala. Angel Reyes was born and raised in Connecticut until he also moved to Puerto Rico. At 14, Reyes’ family moved to Ocala. Both met in Ocala through relatives.
- Hiram and Angel produce bilingual albums to build bridges and break barriers, reaching both the English- and Spanish-speaking communities with which they feel a personal connection.
- Hiram and Angel expect their next album, Alcanzando una Promesa (Reaching a Promise), to be released in the spring 2019.
Poem by Hiram Garcia
There was once a man who dreamed of seeing the ocean located, in a secluded area, miles away from the Barrio (town) he lived in. Every day he would wake up put his sandals on and walk the path given to him by his fishing friends. He realized that no matter which way he went there was a huge mountain whose name was Tribulation that stopped him from proceeding forward. One morning on a walk towards the beach which he so longed to see, he stood in front of Mt. Tribulation. He put his hand on the mountain and said “move now!!!!“The Mountain looked at him and laughed saying “In what name do you command me to move, yours? Be gone!” The man walked away tired and in despair saying to himself “Will I ever see Paradise” he stopped and sat under a group of palm trees to rest for he was weary from his journey. He then dozed off for a few hours he began to dream of a great day of fishing on the water but having it ruined by a terrible storm. In the dream he heard a voice that said Storm calm down and leave this man alone! The subtle yet strong voice called the man and said I am your creator I have seen how much you have longed to see your Destiny your paradise! I have seen how long you have faced Mt. Tribulation and failed each time. My son that Mountain will never move by your strength you need to go and face that mountain with me by your side and command it to move in the name of The Lord of Lords and the King of Kings the one who never leaves you nor forsakes you! Instantly the man woke up and made his way back to the Mountain and did just as the Lord commanded! Mount Tribulation said what is this power that I feel is lifting me up from my very foundation, in that moment Mt. Tribulation was, catapulted miles into the sea and the Man was in awe at what he saw. An ocean of crystal-clear water with fish as far as the eyes could see and at that moment, he knew he was Home.