Sunday, December 17, 2017
Events

Tejano singer achieves first with appearance at Ruskin Seafood Festival

The passion to sing and play music came later in life for Riverview's Joe Zuniga.

Born in Miami to migrant workers who followed crops around the state, including Ruskin for tomato season, Zuniga grew up in the SouthShore area.

By the time he was a sophomore at East Bay High School, he found himself expelled for what he called "hanging out with the wrong crowd."

At 19, he returned to his Ruskin Elementary School roots as a truancy officer, but a drug trafficking conspiracy case landed him in prison for five years, followed by another four years of supervised release. It wasn't until 2011 that Zuniga decided to head to Monterrey, Mexico, to start a recording career in a genre of music that made Selena famous.

"I was so mad when I was in prison," said Zuniga, who is on track to graduate from USF in the spring with a bachelor's degree in economics and political science. "I said to myself, 'I'm way better than this. What am I doing here?' I'm trying to make up for lost time."

Zuniga is scheduled to become the first Mexican-American singer to perform at the annual Ruskin Seafood Festival when he takes the stage at 10 a.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 and all ages are welcome.

"It's awesome," Zuniga said. "I'm breaking barriers. It's gonna be a mix of regional Mexican music."

After prison, Zuniga studied abroad in Wales, earned an associate's degree in business from Hillsborough Community College and now runs a marketing company and a newly-launched fashion company. In 2012 he won a Tejano Globe award as the Best New Artist and was nominated for a Tejano Music award.

He credits his brother-in-law, Jesse, for teaching him how to play the keyboard and his mother, Maria, who died in January, as his main inspiration. You can hear his motivation emerge in his music, including his latest single Que Me Falto, as well as his public speaking engagements.

SouthShore Chamber of Commerce executive director Melanie Morrison is looking forward to Zuniga's performance.

"The chamber formed a Diversity Committee this year and part of the initial discussion in this group was to make our events more diverse," Morrison said. "The music seemed like a perfect place to start.

"I honestly don't think we could have found a better fit for this."

Zuniga is close to launching his first CD and expects to be on Mexican and American radio by next year. You can hear his music at facebook.com/JoeZunigaOfficial.

Contact Eric Vician at [email protected]

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday, Dec. 16

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Saturday, Dec. 16

Love Never Dies: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. 2 and 8 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Start at $45. (813) 229-7827. Ice Skating at Tampa’s W...
Published: 12/15/17
Top things to do on Dec. 17

Top things to do on Dec. 17

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum band is bringing an updated presentation of "The ghosts of Christmas Eve." This winter tour will be celebrate the accomplishments of the group’s late creator and composer Paul O...
Published: 12/15/17
Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro. He’s deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian ...
Published: 12/15/17
Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that Tavis Smiley was slated to bring to Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has been canceled in the wake sexual misconduct allegations against the broadcaster.Death...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

PARADES Homosassa Christmas Boat Parade Parade begins at Marker 75 by Bird Island. Free. Homosassa Springs Marina, 10806 W Halls River Road, Homosassa. 6 p.m. Dec. 16.   Indian Rocks Beach Boat Parade It begins at the Holiday Inn Harbourside and...
Published: 12/14/17
Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Take a second and try to think of a few of the world’s biggest drinking cultures. Ireland is a freebie, but then you’ll probably move onto Germany, Russia and possibly even South Korea (yep, South Korea goes hard).How about Spain? No, I’m not just ta...
Published: 12/14/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 15

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 15

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress is ready to Roar as she sets off on a tour in support of the album, Witness. Synth-pop duo Purity Ring opens. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$195.75. (813) 301-2500.John Prine: T...
Published: 12/14/17
From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

You don’t have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart. Beyond the downtowns of St. Pet...
Published: 12/14/17
New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New Year’s Eve fireworks in downtown Tampa will be a little different this year, as free, public viewing moves from Channelside Bay Plaza to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park behind Amalie Arena due to ongoing construction. Meanwhile, the Pied Pipe...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17