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Jose Barrientos has a talent for music. But it was not his talent alone that brought him to where he is today.

It took passion as well.

Jose recently received the UIL State Solo and Ensemble contest Outstanding Performer award — an award given to only 231 of 85,000 student musicians statewide who compete in regional contests.

“I play my sax and memories are formed with the many [emotions] that I feel as I play,” Jose said. “I push myself hoping that one day I can have my father with me to support and encourage me.

“I have been able to push myself with that hope I have.”

Jose said he first picked up the saxophone in sixth grade, and though the instrument wasn’t hi first choice to play, fate intervened, leading Jose to excel on the instrument.

In addition to the UIL award, he has also received a band scholarship to attend Stephen F. Austin State University.

“For a while I was worried that I would not get a scholarship from SFA,” he said. “I auditioned for the band, but beforehand they told me that they had distributed all the scholarship moneys that they had and couldn’t offer me one.

“I tried out and somehow they gave me a substantial scholarship to help pay for my schooling anyway.”

After double majoring in music and nursing at SFA, Jose said he aspires to be a part of the U.S. Navy Band in Washington D.C.

When asked how he feels about his success, his response was simple and heartfelt.

“It’s pretty awesome to know that with hard work and dedication, you can succeed,” he said.

Jose said he would not have studied and practiced his music, but his brother, Pedro Martinez, would always jokingly tell Jose that he was not going to succeed.

With a competitive spirit and his mind focused, Jose practiced to prove his doubter wrong.

Not all the people in Jose’s life doubt him, though — especially not now.

“One of the people that most influenced and encouraged me was Mr. Bullock,” Jose said. “He has been like a father to me because he’s always there when I need him.”

Jacksonville High School Band Director Mike Bullock said he was thrilled with the announcement of Jose’s success.

“I think Jose was born with a natural ability,” Bullock said. “He’s not satisfied until it’s perfect.

“He has the drive to get him where he wants to go with his natural ability.”

Bullock said there were many times when he would watch and listen to Jose practice a particular part of section of music he had trouble with, working for hours until the selection was perfect.

“This is my 30th year teaching,” Bullock said. “In my 30 years I have divided it between two schools. In my previous school we had several outstanding soloists — they had weekly private lessons. For Jose to accomplish this achievement on his own is amazing.

“For Jose not have music an integral part of his life, I just cannot see him being very happy,” Bullock said. “Jose is obviously most happy when he is playing.”

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