Sebastian “Sea Bass” Ariza: the best catch of NC singing

Photo provided by Sebastian Ariza - Ariza at his 2022 Honors Chorus performance

Photo provided by Sebastian Ariza – Ariza at his 2022 Honors Chorus performance

Jackson Fromm, Online Editor

 RJ Reynolds A Capella, the prestigious singing group, has gained yet another singing superstar. Though he may be small in stature, he is a monumental force in the Reynolds arts scene, taking a cappella and theatrical performances by storm. He has already made history on the state level, and the best thing is: Sebastian Ariza is only a freshman. 

    Moving to Winston-Salem from the Dominican Republic when he was just 2 years old, Ariza has been singing since he was very young, though he claims he only seriously started singing just a few years ago. For Ariza, singing has provided him with a creative outlet.

    “I mean signing, I feel like it’s given me an artistic side that I’ve never really had before,” Ariza said. “It helped me meet a lot of amazing people.” 

   Ariza is a tenor 1, which is the highest voice part for a male singer. A Cappella Director Josh Settlemyre knew Ariza would be a star and valuable member of the group when he sang soprano range during his audition. 

    “He came in, and you know, he’s a little guy, but he carried himself really, really well,” Settlemyre said. “You know, you can just tell the way he carried himself, how mature he seemed.”

    This maturity is seen in his historic accomplishment of being selected to the Honors Chorus, a state-wide selected group of high school singers. The group is very competitive, only accepting about 200 of the nearly 1,000 applicants. Ariza was one of only four freshmen to make it in the whole state. 

    “Out of the 36 tenors that they chose, me and my friend Caleb, we were some of the tenors that got chosen,” Ariza said. “Most of them were seniors and juniors, so they were very advanced compared to me.”

   While Ariza was more humble about his esteemed accomplishment, Settlemyre did not sugarcoat how amazing it really was.

    “They picked 23 tenor 1s out of everybody in the state. So to make it is extremely, extremely difficult,” Settlemyre said. “To make it as a freshman is unheard of.”

    Besides being a superb talent, Ariza is a light-hearted and kind person, keeping spirits high throughout the group.

    “He’s always smiling and laughing and keeping everybody happy,” Settlemyre said. “Everybody seems to like him; he’s everybody’s friend.”

    Ariza also enjoys the group atmosphere, saying he’s made many friends through a cappella.

    “The environment, it’s really friendly; everybody gets along,” Ariza said.

    So beloved in the group, Ariza has been bestowed by Settlemyre some honorable nicknames. Ariza smiled as he explained them. 

    “The first nickname that he ever called me was Falcon. I don’t know why I thought it was funny, and it confused people for some reason,” Ariza said. “Now, he just calls me Sea Bass, as in the fish, which I think is funny.”

    Being just a freshman, “the falcon” has the potential to soar to new heights during his time at RJR. Settlemyre didn’t want to jinx it but hinted at the possibility of Ariza making the highly elusive 4-year run of Honors Chorus appearances. He also joked about Ariza potentially having a solo of a Jackson 5 song, playing the role of little Michael.

    During his next four years, though, “the Sea Bass” just wants to make a splash where he can. 

    “I feel like I want to make a name for myself before I leave for college,” Ariza said. “I feel like I just want to be remembered.”