Bo Mendez, a 2009 Pasco High graduate, is on his way to Los Angeles this weekend to compete in the Varsity Vocals International Championship.
The semifinals for the international contest are April 5 at Pomona College in Claremont.
Mendez will be performing with the a cappella group Boots 'n' Cats, which he joined while attending Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
"I was asked to sing in a new group that was forming at CWU in August 2013," Mendez told the Herald in an interview. "I was honored to be asked to participate in a group with such ambition. We've been rehearsing since September.
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"We will perform an 11-minute set with a compilation of songs," he said, including Good Feelin' by Flo Rida, Treasure by Bruno Mars, Cry Me a River by Etta James, and a mash up of that same song by Justin Timberlake, Brave by Sara Bareilles and Victory Lap by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
He grew up in Othello and said church musicals and roles in living nativity scenes helped get him hooked on music. His parents are Gilbert and Angie Mendez of Othello. His father teaches at Stevens Middle School in Pasco.
At Pasco High, he was the drum major for the school's marching band in 2008, and he sang with the 10th Avenue Singers group for two years.
He also was involved in the high school's productions, playing Mr. Body in Clue in 2008, and Shere Khan in Jungle Book during his senior year.
"I thank Pasco High School for opening up the gate to experience the joy in performing," Mendez said. "It shaped my pursuit for excellence on the stage and off."
He's majoring in music education while at CWU with a minor in mathematics education. He will graduate in June.
"I chose CWU because of the reputation of the music department for producing some of the finest music teachers in the area," Mendez said. "I would not have been exposed to as much prestige if I had not attended this university."
The winner of the Varsity Vocals contest will advance to nationals in New York City later this year.
The Varsity Vocals International Championship of A Cappella is the only international tournament that showcases the art of student a cappella singing.
The event features the top two placing groups from five Western quarterfinal events. More information about the contest is at www.varsityvocals.com.
Mendez said a cappella music holds a special feeling for him.
"I have an appetite for singing a cappella music simply because something special happens when a group of the same instrument performs together," he said. "A cappella music predates instrumental music, and it has grown and adapted to fit the popular style of music in every age."
When Mendez and his fellow singers head for L.A. next week, he is hopeful they will reign supreme at the competition.
"The competition is stiff, and we are sharpening every edge of our choreography and cleaning up every note to ensure we captivate the audience and judges," he said. "Our hard work might just pay off and land us in first place. But even if it doesn't, we will know we put our best foot forward."
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal