Meet The Singers: Nine Finalists To Compete Friday

Meet The Singers: Nine Finalists To Compete Friday


SOCORRO, N.M. – The call for singers was issued last fall, and the Socorro community responded with 41 contestants vying for a chance to compete for a cache of prizes as part of “Socorro Sings,” a vocal competition set for Dec. 1.

The finalists were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire listing their reasons for entering the competition, and a little about their backgrounds. Their replies are as follows, beginning with the two professionals who will serve as host/emcee, judge and performers.

For the full article about Socorro Sings!, click here. 

The Judges

  Socorro Sings Jonathan-Gallegos
  Jonathan Gallegos

Jonathan Gallegos is a professional singer, vocal coach and string bass player in Albuquerque area. He started music at a very early age as a singer in the Albuquerque Boys Choir.  As a string bassist, he played in multiple professional symphonies, and as a singer has experience with many musical theatre and opera companies. 

Gallegos has a degree in Vocal Performance from NMSU, with a large part of his training in Milan, Italy.  He has performed all over the country and in Europe with a highlight of appearing at Carnegie Hall.  In Albuquerque, he serves as musical director for multiple theatre companies and has a private voice studio.

  Socorro Sings Emily-Melville

Emily Melville


Emily Melville studied vocal performance and musical theatre at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and UNM. She has performed in regional and local Albuquerque productions of Aida (Amneris), White Christmas (Betty Haynes), Sweeney Todd (Johanna), Hairspray (Velma VonTussle), Mary Poppins (Mrs. Banks) and many more. Melville teaches children’s theatre, piano and voice. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband, Brent.


The Competitors

Eli Armijo has been singing for the past 23 years, and credits his mother with jump-starting his musical journey in utero. “Putting headphones on her pregnant belly was the only thing that would stop my kicking,” he wrote.

  Socorro Sings Eli-Armijo

Eli Armijo


He also credits his girlfriend Megan “who is amazing and always there for me.” Armijo’s favorite musical genre is heavy metal, and he lists Ronnie Radke as his favorite singer. Something Unique About You:

“My ride,” Armijo wrote. “I drive an ‘87 Buick hearse with flames painted on one side, pink flowers and the word “DEATH” graffitied on the other.”

His biggest passion is singing, and Armijo lists violin, acting in musicals, and playing guitar, piano, hanging and playing music with all of his friends, roller skating and dancing.  “Singing has always been a happy place for me,” he wrote. “My entire childhood consisted of some kind of music from violin to guitar and choir, mostly. I sing because I’m happy and excited to share my most favorite thing to do with everyone.”

Will Barefield has been singing “from a wee lad” and lists his favorite singers as Sinatra, Pavarotti and Morrison, so no surprise that his preferred musical genres are jazz/Broadway. The love of the audience motivates him to perform, and teaching is his biggest passion. So far as hobbies, Barefield is ranked an expert chess player.

Socorro Sings Rose-Carilli  spacer-3tenthsinchwide
 Rose Carilli


Rose Carilli, the youngest of five siblings, is a Socorro native; and, at 14, one of three youngest performers.

She has been singing since she was able to vocalize, and lists electronic music as her favorite genre, and Alan Walker as favorite singer.

Her family is Carilli’s greatest motivator, and her biggest passion is art. She’s “pretty good at drawing,” which is one of her hobbies, along with playing piano, writing and golfing.


Julie Ford has lived in Socorro since she joined the faculty at New Mexico Tech in 2003. Her musical tastes are disparate. “My favorite band is Rush, but I also love a cappella and singer/songwriters with a good story to tell and poetic lyrics,” she wrote.

“In my 20s as a grad student I moonlighted with acoustic duo gigs in settings ranging from bars to coffee shops to grocery stores. I took a long hiatus, but I’m happy to be singing again,” said Ford, whose favorite singer is Geddy Lee.

  Socorro Sings Julie-Ford

Julie Ford


What is unique about Ford? She teaches engineers to communicate; and, she wrote, “I have a knack for finding four-leaf clovers.” Her motivation comes from “serving as an example for my children and my students that it is possible to work hard at your career, but also pursue and make time for other interests.”

Her biggest passion is living a balanced life and maintaining perspective, and hobbies are spending time with her husband and sons, swimming, golf, distance running and learning to play piano.

“I’m a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and this is my 15th year at NMT. I think my students would be very surprised that I sing. And honestly that is part of my motivation to audition. Part of my instruction to students (beyond content area) is to teach them to not confine themselves to small boxes. I encourage students to embrace left and right brain, to be an engineer AND human at the same time.


 Socorro Sings Tori-Murillo spacer-3tenthsinchwide
 Victoria Murillo



Victoria Murillo has been singing since she was three years old. She loves all musical genres, but Latin is her favorite, and Carrie Underwood is her top singer. Something unique? Murillo teaches multiple forms of Zumba classes, and teaches PE at the elementary level. She is motivated by her adult and elementary school students, music and competitions.

Music and dance are her passions, while she lists her hobbies as “anything family-oriented, camping and singing in church choir.”

“I come from a background of music from both sides of my family (mom’s and dad’s),” Murillo wrote.  “I sing because it’s my passion. I used to be afraid and didn’t have confidence. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that music and singing can be a wonderful gift, if you sing for others and not for fame. I love to sing with my family for local events in the community, private parties, and for church.

“And I love how much people in my community appreciate music. Music is everywhere and I thank God for blessing me, along with all the other participants in this event. If I can make a difference and touch someone’s heart with my voice, then I have done my job,” she wrote.

  Socorro Sings Jeanette-Otero
  Jeanette Otero

Jeanette Otero at 10 is Socorro Sings youngest performer. The pre-teen’s favorite music genre is love songs, and she has been singing since she learned to talk (some nine years). Freddie Mercury, the late frontman for Queen, is her favorite singer.

The finalist listed her personality as a unique trait, adding, “I’m usually very nice to all people.”

Her parents provide her greatest motivation, and singing is her biggest passion. Being in plays and crocheting are hobbies.


Socorro Sings Chynna-Pearson spacer-3tenthsinchwide
Chynna Pearson  

Chynna Pearson attended Socorro schools K-12 along with taking classes at New Mexico Tech. She is now a student at Oklahoma State University where she was awarded a performing arts scholarship and is a member of the University Singers. While in high school, Pearson was a member of the Lady Warriors golf team.

“Personally,” she wrote, “I don’t think my story is interesting, since I only sing because I’m good at it.”


  Socorro Sings Val-Thomas
  Val Thomas

Val Thomas is a Louisiana native now living – and singing – in Socorro. Her musical tastes run to “a little bit of everything,” while her favorite chanteuse is Celine Dion.

Thomas has been singing for some 32 years, since childhood. So far as a unique trait, Thomas is very organized “and able to make the best out of any situation.”

She is motivated by her love of learning and her family. “My biggest passion is and has always been making music and encouraging others to express themselves with music,” she wrote, adding that her hobbies include cooking, crafts and writing.

  Socorro Sings Jenna-Thunborg
  Jenna Thunborg

Jenna Thunborg, at 12, rounds out the cast of younger performers. She lives in Lemitar and lists country western as her favorite music genre. It follows that the late Marty Robbins is her favorite singer. Thunborg has been singing since the age of four, and wrote that her biggest passion is sharing her music with others.

Her unique trait is having a twin sister with whom she sings and plays music, and she is motivated by “having fun and learning new things.” Her favorite hobbies are singing, reading, geology, chemistry, and painting.