WILLEMSTAD, CURAÇAO 

As I walked into St. Tropez Ocean Club, I was greeted with a picturesque sky painted orange and blue.  I was entertained with the sound of cheerful conversation as the air was filled with excitement over the launch of Andrew Aalse’s first music video, “Better Man.”   I quickly found my way to familiar faces, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to be among the first to view what may be a major step to stardom of this talented young man.  Among the guests were his family, close friends, and his Les Misérables family, which is where I first met Andrew and his family a mere three months ago.  He owned the role of Marius in the school-adapted musical of the Victor Hugo novel, and presented by the Curaçao Youth Theatre. He instantly befriended all cast members, no questions asked, because that’s just who he is.  Many have come to admire the bond that this unique group of students have forged.  Proud parents Tessa and Dennis Aalse raised their children encouragingly, teaching them to respect every culture, and to accept people for who they are.

 

As the voice in the microphone began to announce that they will soon be playing the music video, we found our way through the crowd to get (luckily) a perfect view.  I couldn’t help but wonder, as I saw my daughter sitting front row, if years from now she’ll realize the magnitude of this event.  Not only was she witnessing the result of dedication and perseverance, but how many times can one say they were there when it all started?  No matter what the future holds, that moment was priceless to all who were present, whether you were a close friend, or a complete stranger.  The music, recorded in Curaçao, is a fusion of pop and Latin rhythm, and the video was filmed in New York City.  As the scenic images of New York captivated us, I realized that my feet began tapping to the beat of this catchy tune.  Before we knew it, it was over, and Andrew was received by great applause, cheers, and smiles that decorated the faces of those present.  We were treated to a second viewing of the video, but this time it was accompanied by a live performance by Andrew and the band!

 

“If that’s what you want, go for it!”

Flanked by his proud parents, they answered some questions from the guests, and they gave a brief explanation as to how it all began.  Andrew and his brothers (Jeremy plays the saxophone in the music video) were surrounded by music at a very young age, their father Dennis Aalse being the composer, arranger, and multi instrumentalist of Dennis Aalse’s Big Band and Dennis Aalse Youth Orchestra.  Mom, Tessa, admits that they never instantly assumed that their children would follow in their father’s footsteps, but they would support them no matter what career path they decided to take.  When Andrew told them that path was music, they said, “If that’s what you want, go for it!”  Dennis confessed during the Q&A that it was new (but certainly not unwelcome) territory to be in a position where he didn’t call the shots; Andrew wrote his own lyrics, and composed his own music as Dad supportively guided him through the steps as the “co-arranger.”  “He had a vision.  He always knew what he wanted, and I had to respect that,” he explained.

 

As I sat down with his parents, we began sharing our beliefs about how we want our children to view the world: with an open mind, open heart and humility.

 

As I sat down with his parents, we began sharing our beliefs about how we want our children to view the world: with an open mind, open heart and humility.  A Senior at Radulphus College in Curaçao, Andrew is just as dedicated to his studies as he is to his music, and no matter what he does, he always gives 100%.  The evening was coming to an end, the band began packing up, and as I said my goodbyes and thanked my gracious hosts, I was left humbled, inspired and thankful for the paths that were crossed that evening.  I caught a glimpse of a new chapter in a family’s life, one written in commitment, values, love and mutual understanding, and filled with hope.

 

 

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