Lead On, Creatively: Q&A with David Mejia’24


David Mejia at the NextGen National Finals in New York City.

David Mejia ’24 at the NextGen National Finals in New York City. Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima

The Lead On, Creatively series highlights TCU College of Fine Arts alumni, students and faculty who are putting their passion into practice.

“It took a lot of patience, perspective and persistence to take me where I wanted to go,” said David Mejia ’24, a graduate student at the School of Music. “Still very surreal and a blessing.”

Mejia competed against the top 10 vocalists in the nation.

Mejia competed against the top 10 vocalists in the nation. Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima

We spoke to Mejia about his recent success in winning second place male vocalist for the NextGen National Finals hosted by American Pops Orchestra (APO), a national voice competition based in New York City. Mejia competed against the top 10 vocalists in the nation and earned paid performance opportunities with APO musicians.

Before advancing to the finals at the prestigious Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Mejia competed in a virtual semifinal and earned a top-five spot for an all-expense-paid trip to New York City where he attended a masterclass with Broadway professionals and rehearsals with APO members.

“From a pool of hundreds across the nation, I was one of the top 15 from an audition video I filmed in early November,” Mejia said.

What was the journey to enter and place in the NextGen National Finals?
The competition was unlike anything I had ever done and was my first national voice competition. Over 300 applicants applied for the opportunity to make it to the top two spots for this prestigious organization seeking the next generation of vocalists in America.

After being selected to advance, I competed in two additional rounds of auditions, one virtual semifinal and the live finals at Lincoln Center. For the virtual semifinal, I was the first finalist announced before Thanksgiving. I was thrilled and honored to perform at an iconic stage where renowned musicians have performed.

What did you learn from the competition that you can apply to your career?
I’ve learned to be authentic, create impactful performances and tell a story that shares my history. I do not compete to “compete” but to become a better singer and person.

I established incredible connections with the other vocalists. They quickly became my family over those four days in New York City. I learned that you never stop making new friends; strangers are people I don’t know yet. I hope and know I will surely share the stage with them again.

What advice would you give to students pursuing a degree in the School of Music?
Stay resilient. The course load for fine arts majors can be grueling but remind yourself why you’re here. It is a privilege to follow your passion and we should never take it for granted. Starting the moment you walk into your first day of classes, I hope you will always have music in your life.

Who most impacted your TCU experience and why?
Dr. James Rodriguez, the division chair of voice and my voice professor has impacted my experience at TCU. As a Mexican American student growing up in Brownsville, Texas, it is unusual for people like me to hold high-caliber academic positions. Rodriguez is the most honest and dedicated person I have met. I am proud to be one of his students and learn his pedagogical methods and insight on opera and the art of vocal performance.

What’s next for you?
I’m traveling to San Antonio in July to perform at the Texas Choral Directors Association Convention with Awaken Ensemble under the direction of Sean Hale. I will also perform with Rio Grande Valley’s Pasión Ensemble in McAllen, Texas, under the direction of Dr. Eric Posada this summer.

I may also perform on the East Coast with Patti LaBelle as well as at Hispanic heritage and pride events with the American Pops Orchestra.

Mejia is preparing for upcoming performances, including his Master in Voice Recital at the Van Cliburn Concert Hall on April 22 at 1 p.m. and TCU Opera’ Stars of Tomorrow Showcase on April 22 at 7 p.m. directed by Dr. Corey Trahan.

Learn more about Student Recital Series: David Mejia, voice. Andrew Packard, piano