LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) — Smith Esteves, an incoming Senior at Longview High School, has been named as an outstanding performer at the Texas State University Interscholastic League (UIL) Solo & Ensemble Contest (TSSEC).

Of the approximately 100,000 students participating in the regional UIL music contests and the thousands of musicians who performed at TSSEC, Only 2% of all students who perform solo performances in the state are given this award. 

Melody McMullen, Longview High School choir director, said that in February, her students participated in the regional UIL Solo and Ensemble competition to compete for a rating, in which 29 students received a first division rating, and 22 students qualified to go to State Solo and Ensemble. 

From February to May, the students had time to work on their music and prepare. Of the 22 that tried out, six students received a first division, and three students received a second division. 

Esteves was one of the very few students in the state that was given the honor of ‘Outstanding Performer.’ His director expressed her excitement on behalf of her student, 

“I’m excited that the state recognized what I recognize in this young man,” said McMullen.

In recognition of this achievement, Esteves was awarded with a gold medal. He said that he knew right away when he first heard the song he sang for the competition that he could master and perfect his style.

“I picked this one song because it was very stoic and you could build from it and use a strong voice for it. I liked the song too, so I could listen to it over and over again, for months even,” Esteves said.

Esteves said that in December, he received the music and then worked on building his voice for months. 

“It was a long journey. I spent almost three or four hours a day practicing,” said Esteves.

Esteves found out immediately on May 26 when he competed that he had received a rating of one on his performance, but it wasn’t until a few weeks after school let out for the summer that he was notified about his title as an ‘Outstanding Performer.’

Esteves said that in addition to singing, he also plays guitar and a little bit of piano, but his voice is his main instrument. As an upcoming senior, Esteves said he plans on competing again next year and will continue to build on his talent.