Known as the “Cuban Cowboy,” Orlando Mendez is heating up the country music scene with a unique Miami-infused country-rock sound that garnered him a four-chair turn on Season 22 of The Voice.
Currently based in Nashville, TN, this second-generation Cuban American has been heralded for his unique voice and powerful stage presence. Channelling that into his newest release, “Long Gone Lullaby”—a gritty revenge ballad that embraces the power of finally being over an ex—Mendez is gearing up to release a slew of songs in the coming months in anticipation of his debut EP to follow.
Today, we are getting to know the man behind the music and learning more about his interests outside of music, the hard times that have shaped him as a person, near-death experiences, and so much more. Read below to see a new side of Nashville’s Cuban Cowboy! Find more via the artist’s official website.
Do you have a personal mantra? What is it?
Orlando Mendez: “My mantra I try to live by is “it is what it is until it was what it was”. It’s a mantra that reminds me that nothing in life lasts forever, and that we should cherish every moment no matter what. It doesn’t matter how great the moment is or how terrible that moment in our life is, it too shall pass, so why not enjoy it and be joyful. I fail to live by these words often. I get bogged down and anxious about situations in my life, but I try my best to abide by this phrase.”
If you weren’t a musician or totally in love with your job, you’d be…
“If I didn’t love being a musician, I’d probably be a sports broadcaster. I’ve always had a passion for sports and grew up idolizing Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt and the other anchors I would see every day on my TV as I watched ESPN. I actually studied sports broadcasting the first year I was at the University of Florida.”
When was the last time you tried something new?
“Recently, I was in Alabama for the first time and had a couple firsts. I had my first full boat day out on a lake. I am from Miami, so I am used to going out on the ocean, but the lake was a lot of fun. I also tried Wickles Pickles for the first time. They are a sweet and spicy pickle, and let me tell you… they are fire! Definitely recommend!”
What would you try if you knew you wouldn’t fail?
“If I knew I wouldn’t fail, I’d probably try flying an airplane. I’ve been obsessed lately with watching pilots fly small planes on tik tok, and I think it is so damn cool. It would be awesome to actually be up in the air controlling the plane and have the freedom to fly anywhere I want.”
What’s the question you wish people would ask you when they met you for the first time?
“I wish people would ask me more about my family and my brothers specifically. I spend a lot of time talking about myself and answering questions about my music, but honestly, I love talking about my family. I come from great parents and incredible brothers who are my best friends. I’m really proud of them and love talking about them.”
What do you love most about yourself?
“The thing I love most about myself is the ability I have to connect with others. I truly love people, and I’m glad to say that I feel like people naturally like me as well. I think the coolest thing about my career is how many people I come across and the way that I am able to touch their lives through music. I bring them joy through entertainment, but then I am also able to get off that stage and shake their hand or give them a hug and find out about them. It’s a special thing.”
What single event do you think affected you the most?
“It wasn’t one single event that affected me the most but a string of events. Throughout the course of two years, from 2016-2018, I lost some of the most influential people in my life. I lost my grandfather on my mom’s side, who was my best friend and the person I loved most in the world. After that, I lost my dad’s best friend (who was like an uncle to me, my great-uncle, my other grandfather, my mom’s best friend, my grandmother, and my fifteen-year-old cousin. This last one hit the hardest as it was completely unexpected, and she was so young. Those two years challenged me and shook me to the core. I had to lean on God and my family more than ever. It redefined the way I looked at and lived my life.”
Any near-death experiences?
“Not a whole lot, although one time I did almost get run over by a car as I was riding a bike. My friend was driving the car, and I grabbed onto the door to get some speed (dumb teenage stuff). It was a horrible idea. As he sped up, my front bike tire clipped the side of the car door, and I fell next to the moving car. I was inches away from getting myself run over by both the front and rear tires. Luckily, I came away unscathed with nothing but some road rash on my knees.”
What’s one of the most messed up things that’s happened to you as a musician?
“One time, I was playing an outdoor show in my hometown of Miami. My band and I were on a stage built with a tent over the top to cover us from the sun. Well, in the middle of the gig, it began to pour down rain. There were people who stayed despite the rain, so we continued to play. I’m a man of the people, ya know. Well, the tent on top of us got so full of rainwater that it collapsed directly on top of me mid-song. I was dumped with gallons of water directly on my head. It felt like I was at a waterpark. Obviously, water and electronics are not a good mix, so as this happened, the microphone I was singing into electrocuted my lips. It was a disaster.”