Olivia de la Garza, Singer, vocal coach

If and when they write the story of Olivia de la Garza’s career as a vocalist, it won’t have the down-on-her-luck early drama of Jewel, who lived out of her car before hitting it big. Or the destiny’s child quality of one of her idols, Frank Sinatra, who began singing for tips at age 8—standing on top of a bar in a New Jersey nightclub.

However, history will show that the Boca resident did it her way—the humble singer who valued craft over spotlight, who preferred classical and jazz to pop, who never thought to borrow a page from the Gaga-or-bust playbook.

“I love performing,” says the daughter of a Cuban father (Andy) and a Midwest mother (Pam, from Indiana), both of whom played trumpet. “I just don’t like the focus being all on me.”

In an era where “American Idol” and “The Voice” dangle the solo dream at auditions throughout the country, de la Garza is a musical anomaly. She has the chops to take center stage at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, which she did last fall, performing “Songs of Love and Lust”—selections that ranged from “Cuando Me’n Vo” from Puccini’s “La Bohème” to an original five-song cycle composed by a friend from Florida Atlantic University with de la Garza’s prodigious voice in mind.

But she’s equally at home behind the scenes, working with students as a vocal coach at Bravo Academy in Boca. Or working toward her certification at Ocean’s Edge School of Worship in Fort Lauderdale, which, upon graduating this spring, could lead to a position as a music director or worship leader at a church.

“I know my future is in music; it’s just a matter of how,” says de la Garza, who turns 25 in April. “I’m not yet sure if that will mean as a worship leader or a classical performer. I’m just preparing myself the best I can...”

To continue reading, pick up a copy of our March/April issue.