The teenage singer finds his voice at the new Latino Civic and Cultural Center

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Reynaldo Ismael Moreno comes from a family of singers, but he never thought he would have a song of his own. Thanks to the new Latin Civic and Cultural Center in Burien, he now thinks that a musical career is possible.

“I want to keep making music,” he said, adding that he preferred singing Rancheras to Latin pop songs.

During the four-week music production class, Moreno and 13 other teens learned the ins and outs of digital music recording. The 14-year-old freshman created a catchy Latin pop song about not knowing what to do without his love. The song was inspired by a girlfriend who stopped answering her text messages. Despite the grief, he says hearing his own music is thrilling.

Musician and producer Joe Reineke (left) taught the first recording arts class at the Latino Civic and Cultural Center. Reynaldo Ismael Moreno (right) participated and created a catchy Latin pop song.

“At first you’re shy because everyone is going to hear it, but then it feels good because everyone is going to recognize your talent,” he said in Spanish.

The program is one of many offered at the new center, which is part of the nonprofit Latin American Civic Alliance of Washington State. Located in downtown Burien, the space will also serve as a gallery and meeting place for local Latino leaders.

“It’s always been in our dreams to build a space where Latino leaders can come together and young people and learn about civic engagement and also incorporate the arts,” said Nina Martinez, chair of the board of directors of the non-profit organization.

The Latino Civic Alliance saw the need for more after-school programs for Latino teens after the shooting death of Elizabeth Juarez in 2017. She was 13 when she died.

Martinez says that and the growing Latino community were also a driving force in choosing Burien. Now, Martinez says watching Moreno create something of her own makes her emotional.

“Renaldo was so proud of his work. And that’s what we want; let the students here, the kids feel like they can do whatever they want,” she said.

Founded in 2005, the nonprofit organization plans to eventually open another center in eastern Washington.

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