just Being Tito
Welcome to the BEING ME ROAD TRIP. I am collecting stories in writing, on recordings, on napkins and in videos that I hope will entertain, inspire and encourage you to move in the direction you want to be going with COURAGE.
Tito Ortiz. Tito had recently posted a link on Facebook sharing the success of his latest song featured in the award winning Showtime hit series Shameless. A fan of both Tito and the show, I knew hearing his story was the perfect place to start.
BUMPER STICKER: (If we could make a sticker out of one thing we learned by talking to Tito Ortiz about life and creativity, it would be this!)
“By being true to yourself, you have fulfilled a cosmic promise to your heart…”
REARVIEW MIRROR: (Read where Tito and I first met.)
Tito and I met when I was only 21 years old. Ok, truth time, way back when, when we were wee little lads floating around the big apple, we used to date! He was an actor playing a then small role on my favorite Soap Opera called All My Children (“Mom, I am on a date with Mateo,” I whispered from the pay phone in a little restaurant in Queens), and I was a bright-eyed actress commuting to NJ for my first paying acting gig. Since the first day I met him, I was introduced to his persistence (and now while I look into my rearview mirror, I am sure this quality has also led to his success). He asked me out while I was on another date! That took some courage. He did it as respectfully as one can do that. Oh, the fun of being 21! His tactics worked and we became friends. He juggled his rent with a graphic design job. I juggled mine by buying a sleeve of bagels from C-Town for 79 cents and eating one half of the bagel for lunch and the other for dinner! As time marches on, some memories fade but the one thing I remember clearly about Tito (besides his infectious smile) is his love and passion for playing music. An instant fan, I bought my Ernesto T- Shirt (still have it) while he was singing his heart out at the Bitter End (where I would dance my heart out and feel super cool that I knew the lead singer) and repeatedly played my CDs he made for me in my boom box singing along to “the girls with Spanish dark eyes” pretending he was talking about me-even though he wrote that song long before we met. No matter how busy his life was, or where he was living or how he was paying the bills, Tito found time and the space to play his guitar, write music and sing. Now, catching up almost 20 years later, he is married to a beautiful woman (they live in sunny Cali), has a job at a publishing company and is a professional musician. He never let music go, and it has paid off. I had some questions. So, I put my courage cape on, wrote my old flame a Facebook message and asked!
THE CAR RIDE: (My 0ne-on-one convo with the musician Tito Ortiz.)
How many years have you been playing music?
I always loved to sing, ever since I was a little kid in Long Island. I would come home after grammar school and put on my parents’ vinyl records- yes, vinyl, and sing along with my heroes (PULL OVER: Remember my IG post about mimicking your heroes? If you didn’t see it, click here). I started playing guitar in high school thanks to my big brothers who bought me my first electric guitar. I never stopped playing after that, through college and beyond, through several bands as a lead singer and now as a professional songwriter/composer.
What keeps you going?
Music is simply my passion. It’s the most honest expression of my heart, the way I give thanks, and the way I show people who I really am. That’s why it’s so amazing. When I play, when I’m really “in it” I feel safe and life makes sense. It’s a feeling I want to be profoundly grateful for.
How do you fit it in even with a full time job and a family?
Honestly, it can be challenging, but I am lucky that music has become part of my business. I work with a publishing company that represents my music for licensing to TV and film. So part of my day is devoted to making music…which is nice. That aside, I always to try to play guitar for the simple pleasure of it. I have guitars in just about every room of our home and my wife is incredibly supportive of my music. She likes hearing me play around the house and is my “test audience” on all new music ideas.
How do you get over “I’m not good enough” feelings?
I used to have a lot of those feelings, but as I grew up, and started to become aware of the world around me, how fragile we all are and how similar we are in our hopes and dreams, I stopped worrying about “winning” and started focusing on being the best version of myself that I could be. That meant taking responsibility for my artistic expression, how I express myself, and being ok with whatever comes back. When you know you are expressing your truth, as a result of your dedication, focus and passion, you’re already the best- even before you take that first step on stage. By being true to yourself, you have fulfilled a cosmic promise to your heart, and when people see that, whether or not they “like” how you sing, dance or play-they will be unable to deny the truth pouring out of you on stage. Make truthful expression your goal and you’ll be a much happier person…I think.
SITE SEEING: (Tell me where to go next!)
You can find Tito Ortiz’s music here:
FUEL UP: (The space to get some added INSPO.)
Tito has worked with Notes for Notes, a non-profit that provides music mentorship to teens in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and volunteered with The Art of Elysium, a foundation which brings music & art to children in hospitals throughout Los Angeles.
STAR GAZING: (Late night thoughts.)
I can remember many nights of Tito worrying about if he was going to make it or be stuck in a job he did not like his whole life. His view in Cali looks pretty good as far as I can tell. And all it took was a commitment and courage to BEING TITO.