STORY BY NAOMI WOOD, PHOTOS BY WESLEY KIRK
Every once in a while, we like to interview a various folks in town that are of interest to us and probably you. They might be kinda weird, kinda funny, or just someone we ran into on the street. We take some photos, ask 'em some questions, and there you have it. It's People of Denton.
It isn’t every day that you meet someone so unassuming, yet so diversely talented. Rebeca Perfecto (yes that’s her real name) on a typical day, recruits undergraduate students to The University of North Texas. She spends most of her time traveling to the farthest reaches of South Texas, compelling potential students to jump on the Denton bandwagon. But this recruiter has secrets. Lots of them. Perfecto is a recruiter by day, but a Latin Pop Singer, Saxophonist, Author, Entrepreneur, and Activist by night. She’s also from our sister territory Puerto Rico, but now calls herself a Texas native since she moved back a year and a half ago. Perfecto is a UNT alum and an all around Denton lover-girl (let’s just call her a Denton recruiter). Maybe you’ve seen her at local shows or at East Side/Oak Street having a beer with co-workers or relatives. We snatched Perfecto on her lunch break and found out way more than we could have asked for.
How long have you been in Denton?
I’ve officially moved back to Denton from Puerto Rico almost two years ago. I spent the majority of the 2000s here as a student, and helping develop UNT’s LGBT Ally sensitivity training. The one gold nugget of a saying I tell prospective students and their parents are: “Denton is a bustling small town with a big heart.” Denton is so awesome because it feels small, but has an incredible music scene, and also the convenience of living 30 miles from a major city. It’s safe here and it feels good. I have met more interesting and diverse people in this city than any other. With only 150,000 residents, normally 50,000 of those people are students. I bring my Puerto Rican friends to Dallas and they’re like “meh, big city...” and then when I bring them to Denton they’re like “awww!”
Being a Latin Pop Singer, how did you get started in music and why did you choose pop as a genre to identify with?
A lot of people don’t give pop enough credit. I grew up listening and dancing to salsa music. I love pop so much because it can have interwoven instrumentation, and there is interesting depth. To me, pop isn’t just what you hear on the radio, it can be multi-layered. I was raised with Ricky Martin and Juan Luis Guerra. Since my album is in Spanish and I wrote it for people in my home country, I knew that it would resonate with them. I also studied in the jazz music program here at UNT, and it had a huge influence on the way I wrote and composed my music as an artist. I ended up graduating with a degree in sociology, but always found myself in the practice rooms in the music building working on my music.
Do you have a fan base in Puerto Rico?
I would say so, I mean we are just getting started really. I have the adult crowd that is drawn by the lyrics, and I also have the teenage crowd that loves the catchy music itself. It’s a good combination. It’s very hard for me to write in English because it’s not as poetic as Spanish. I think there are so many more metaphors in Spanish, and I want to write like Marques, Lorca, Neruda, and Julia de Burgos. These people had a huge influence on how I write my music. My producer Josue Parilla is also a UNT alumni and we worked for four solid years on this album to get it perfected.
Let’s segue into your next passion, writing: You were an instrumental part in the Ally sensitivity training and development here at UNT. Do you consider yourself an LGBT activist?
I do, but honestly it’s on the back-burner right now. I’m a creative person, so my music takes up the majority of my personal time. I graduated with a degree in sociology, so I consider myself a person that stands up for those that are marginalized. Whether that be hispanic, low income, gay, lesbian, you name it. I think that the sensitivity training was something that I was working on at the time because it was super important to me, and was a necessary step that UNT was trying to take in that direction. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and was able to work with some really important people like Dr. Emeneheiser, Sue Young, and Mary Finley. It was exciting having influence on the program development when it was in its infancy. It also led me down another path to start writing an instructional book about bullying.
Why did you decide to write an anti-bullying book in Spanish?
I wrote it in Spanish because there was literally no resources available for kids in spanish. I also wrote it not as an information piece for them, but as an interactive guide that the kids could write in, throw down when they were mad, and ultimately destroy if they wanted to. I wanted them to play with it, write in it, and use it however they needed it. Currently, it is sold out in Puerto Rico. We have a new order in the works.
Do you think it’s important to maintain creativity even with a full-time job?
Absolutely, although I think my job still allows for creativity. Since I am a UNT recruiter, my job is to come up with creative ways to compel students that UNT and Denton are a beautiful place. I am fortunate to be able to work with wonderful people, and sophisticated software to make that happen. I have free reign to make videos, flyers, brochures, etc.... I also travel most of the year in South Texas, which is pretty sweet. I love being on the go.
Since you’re multi-talented, where do you see yourself in five years?
I want to continue writing within my publishing contract. I want to keep producing whatever it is that I find next whether that be music or books. As long as I’m working on creative projects, I am very fulfilled. I could never not have something going on the side.
Besides writing, creating music, and recruiting for UNT, is there anything else that we don’t know about you?
My brother and I are dabbling in entrepreneurship and have started the Grand Prairie School of Music for children. These kids would not otherwise have access to music lessons at a low cost. Right now we have 110 students, and we only charge $13 per 30 minute session. Again, we think access is important and critical to students who may be at a disadvantage. We hope it really takes off and will be life changing for those kids. There’s so much research that shows the powerful impact that music has on student’s lives, we hope to keep this going and see it grow.