WATCH | Millennial Making a Difference: Flores makes a musical difference

Jacob Flores live loops using his keyboard during his performance at J and S Italian Villa on a Friday night.  – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record
Jacob Flores live loops using his keyboard during his performance at J and S Italian Villa on a Friday night. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

As a former "American Idol" contestant, Jacob Flores is one of Hot Springs' most familiar local musicians, and he plans to stay in the Spa City with only one goal: to perform.

Eight years after his audition on "American Idol," Flores says he doesn't know if he would ever audition for another television singing competition.

"I might, but also I've been so blessed especially here in Hot Springs to have all the support that I have and to get to play venues every night," he said.

"I think the goal of that show is to get to perform in front of people.

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"But honestly, with me, it doesn't matter if there's just one person in a booth at a restaurant or from Magic Springs on a big stage or wherever. It was never really my goal, making it big, as long as I get to perform. And I get to do that about five, six nights a week, which is really all I could ask for."

"American Idol" wasn't the first "Idol" to feature Flores. He first appeared on "Henderson Idol" as a student at Henderson State University, and was named the winner in 2013, the singer's website said.

Although he didn't go as far as one would like on "American Idol," he still considers himself successful and refuses to give up on what he loves.

"I love music, but it's not just a personal thing," he said. "Whenever I perform, and I see the effect that music has on people, it's almost spiritual. People, if they're having a bad day or just whatever they're going through in their lives, they can relate to a song more often than not, and that is really, really special to be a part of."

Although he is successfully making a career out of his music now booking local gigs, including Friday nights at J&S Italian Villa, he didn't always think he would make it as far as he has.

"There was always that time where it was like, 'Can I do this? Is it sustainable?'" he said. "And so, you know, I didn't have the best voice, I didn't play the best on guitar or even keys, but I was like, 'What can I do to be well-rounded as a musician that I can make this sustainable?'

"A producer once told me, 'They don't call it music business for (nothing).' It is a business at the end of the day, so you gotta take care of your marketing and your advertising," he said.

"There's just so much that goes into a business, which is what it is, that I've had to hone design skills, putting up billboards and posters and editing. So, I try to do a little bit of everything in order to be sustainable so that way, hopefully, I can do this for the rest of my life."

Originally from Texas, Flores grew up in Hot Springs, graduating from Hot Springs World Class High School as it's now known. His journey in the music industry actually began with his family.

"Music has just always been a big part of my life," he said. "My grandpa started our family mariachi band. My dad -- one of 21 kids, mind you, all the same mom and dad -- all played music, either sang or played instruments. And so, I grew up around that and watched them perform in local restaurants."

Although Flores did not go on to be involved in a mariachi band, instead pursuing his own career in music as a one-man band, he does incorporate mariachi styles into his performances, singing in Spanish and English.

"There's so many different people in the restaurant that have all different tastes of music, and so what I would do is try to lure them in with a wagon wheel country song," he said. "And once I have their attention, now I can perform a traditional ballad. ... It'd kinda catch them off guard, and so I started to incorporate Spanish and English, and that was kinda my niche."

As a one-man band, Flores sings, plays the guitar and uses live looping to utilize other instrument sounds, such as drums, into his performances.

During the pandemic, while most places were closed to the public, he didn't have many gigs, meaning he was staying at home with not much to do most of the time, he said. This led to his writing of his second album, "Cupid," which was released in 2021.

Even though performing is what he loves to do, Flores also hopes to inspire young people, just as his father inspired him, he said.

"It's showing these kids, like, 'I could be a musician one day,'" he said. "I'll never forget when I was little, we had a mariachi band come to my school, and I still remember looking up -- it just so happened my dad was in that group -- but, seeing them and thinking, like -- that really stuck with me as far as 'I could do that.'

"When I perform at school, it's not just about performance, it's about, 'Hey guys, follow your dreams.'"

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