Daniel Yosafat sat atop a stage looking out over the massive empty chamber of a Catholic church. In a gorgeous Jeff Buckley-esque falsetto, he practiced the song he would soon play when the late Sunday churchgoers shuffled in. The voice of Yosafat, whose stage name is Daniel Echo, resonated appropriately against the vaulted wooden ceiling and filled the space before this phantom congregation. Yosafat loves doing this week after week.
For Yosafat, music isn’t so much a religion as it is an artistic career. His passion lies with the possibility of building a life for himself through singing and teaching others with this talent.
He’s now in his third year at the University of Nevada, Reno, as well as his third try at a major. This one, he believes, will stick.
“I switched from engineering to business, now to music education with an emphasis on vocals,” he said.
Yosafat played piano and drums as a young child before becoming the guitar virtuoso he is now. He grew up in a family where everyone played an instrument.
“I’ve been surrounded by people who are really musical, so it put me in that kind of mindset,” Yosafat said.
His mother taught him a few chords on guitar, then after a few years of self-discipline and YouTube videos, he taught himself the instrument. He plays like seasoned rockers twice his age. He nails the solo in “Don’t Stop Believin’” without hesitation.
At 16, he became serious about music as a career, a way of making money playing gigs at local coffee shops and bars for crowds who would wonder how he even got in. Usually he puts his acoustic spin on covers of various pop hits—crowd-pleasers and sing-alongs.
But he also recently home-recorded an EP of originals that could fit perfectly into his live cover sets, showcasing his guitar and vocal prowess as well as Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars influences. It’s concise pop music that makes you wonder what defines pop music in the first place.
So after an early life of music, why engineering?
“It’s what my teachers in high school told me to do,” he said. “Math was my favorite subject, surprisingly.”
But after a few semesters and a degree switch, he was sick of extraneous classes. It didn’t make him happy, and the college system fatigued him.
“I talked to my parents about it. I was like, ’Can I just forget college and do my own thing?’ Because I make pretty good money with a 9-5 job. With music on top of that, it would be sufficient.”
Yosafat thought hard about the choice, something that plagues many his age—go to college to get a decent career, a well-paying job? Or go to college to really learn something, to expand your knowledge of that thing for which you are so passionate?
As it turned out, he was able to compromise, with the help of his mom, who said, as a music education major, he’d just be able to become a teacher.
“Well, I like teaching,” he says.
Yosafat is learning vocals because it is the instrument he knows the least but remains his favorite.
“I feel like if I can get a formal education, start a business like private vocal lessons,” he said, the gears in his mind turning faster as he thought about the future and the many possibilities it holds.
But even if one of those possibilities is a backup career, his immediate sights are set on recording professionally through connections he made in UNR’s Audio Engineering Club.
Yosafat spoke of this idea with the excitement. He’s a young man with many paths to success laid out in front of him, yet still the college junior said, “Hopefully I’m on the right path right now.”