What an amazing evening!
My musical duo (called "Paul & Gloria") performed at the City Center in Champaign, IL tonight for a very special event—C.U. Bands & Fans Third Anniversary Bash, which was a fundraiser to benefit C.U. Bands & Fans, an organization that does so much for local music and local musicians.
As part of this celebratory show, the C.U.M.A. (Champaign Urbana Music Awards) also presented wonderful framed certificates to the five nominees as well as a special etched glass award for the winner, chosen by popular vote of the public. I had the honor of being asked to be the opener of the envelope and announcer of the award winner. My partner, Paul Sabuco, was a nominee. And... he won!!! No, I didn't nominate him (although I was thinking about it but then found out someone else did). I did vote for him! Of course I did. He is such an inspiration to me in so many ways. He is so humble and doesn't know why he deserves this award, but it was apparently a landslide, according to my sources.
Paul is someone who truly cares about others. He's give someone the shirt off his own back if they needed it. He'd give someone his last dollar. He thinks about other people's feelings all the time, and his actions show that he does. He always, for example, tells my mom how pretty she looks when he sees her. He is always genuinely friendly to everyone—people he knows and doesn't know. He is loving and caring, and you don't have to know him well to feel this.
Paul has been musically inspiring to people since he was in high school. He's an amazing musician, singer, songwriter, and performer, and he connects with his audience in a way I've not seen in any other musician (and I've been seeing live music for all of my life!). He inspires the people with whom he works musically. I'm one of those people, and from the very start of our partnership, Paul inspired me to be more confident as a musician and performer. He always, always had my back at gigs. He taught me by example to be a much more connected-to-the-audience type of performer. He has done so much for me!
One other way that Paul is inspiring is that he has the gift of being able to make others feel special, to make others laugh. This is a true gift, and people remember and love him for it.
Finally, Paul has been through (and is currently going through) some major health issues. Right before our first scheduled gig about three years ago, he had a massive heart attack, emergency open heart surgery, and a 50-50 chance of survival. He turned his health around and truly beat the odds. He was out performing with me just weeks after the UHI ("unfortunate health incident," as he calls it). In April, right after our CD release show, Paul was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Another huge blow. Again, he is beating the odds, and we are playing shows regularly! He performs with the chemo bag dispensing his chemotherapy drugs; he plays when he's feeling really crappy; he is out there doing what he loves to do and living his life the way he wants to. Talk about an inspiration. Sure, he's had to cancel gigs. Most people who have had chemo say they can't believe he's even playing ANY gigs! His medical reports are positive, and he has so many people sending positive vibes and love to him, praying for him, and cheering him on.
Paul Sabuco, you are my hero. I love you. You DO inspire me tremendously!!!