Las Vegan Savannah Lujan has won many music awards and has taken part in pageants. But her parents say school comes first.
The West Las Vegas Middle School seventh-grader won the Youth Artist of the Year and Youth Song of the Year at the 2008 New Mexico Hispanic Music Awards.
Her parents, John and Paula, said she remains grounded.
“During the school year, her mommy and I want Savannah to concentrate on her school work and school activities. We just want her to be a little girl — the music will always be there,” John said.
He said there are some exceptions: Savannah just received an invitation to compete in this year’s Hispano music awards at the Ohkay Casino near Española on Nov. 14.
In past years, Savannah has performed at the Mora, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos fiestas.
“We all, including Savannah, want her to revisit all these events, but she has got to keep her grades up in order to do that,” John said. “School comes first.”
Savannah said she fell in love with music at a young age.
“I was about 5 years old. My dad always used to sit on the couch in the living room playing his guitar, and we would sing together,” Savannah said.
The youngster also became interested in entering beauty pageants where she could have a place to test her skills as a singer and musician, playing alto sax. She held the title Little Miss Las Vegas.
Savannah said she likes to do what other middle school kids do.
“I like to play soccer, volleyball, hanging out with my friends,” she said with a laugh.
Since she was a young girl, Savannah participated in Girl Scouts and volunteered her time on many community service projects.
“We helped a lot of people, we held food drives, we went to the hospital and nursing homes, and a lot of things to help the community,” Savannah said.
She is now an altar server at Immaculate Conception Church.
Savannah’s favorite subjects in school are, of course, choir and band. She made it to honors in both choir and band last year as a sixth-grader.
Sitting in the stands at a recent volleyball game, Savannah’s dad said the family just experienced a tragedy — a 5-year-old relative died.
“Our kids are so precious. We cannot ever forget that. Her mommy is working right now, so I’m here to support my daughter. If we both can’t attend an event, we try to have at least one of us there,” John said.
Savannah says ever since she can remember, she has wanted to follow in the musical footsteps of her father, and her grandfather Salamon. Her dad plays with his band Johnny Bad Boy y Grupo Animo, and her grandpa formed a band when he was 13 called Little Sal and the Enchanted Four.
“Savannah is a third-generation musician,” John said. “Now we are working on putting her band together — guys that are playing her style of music.”
Over the summer, the Lujan family traveled to Orlando, Fla., so Savannah could compete in the national Actors, Models, and Talent competition. She got six callbacks from producers.
“I got two callbacks from the modeling industry, one for a television commercial, and the rest from record companies. So that was really nice,” Savannah said.
Her dad agreed.
“That was an experience and a half — the way they make the models look for pictures. You have a hard time believing that’s your daughter.”
John said he knows from experience that it can be frightening standing on stage before a large crowd, and actually be able to sing and talk. Many people get the jitters just talking to a small crowd.
“It’s awful to stand on stage and forget lyrics or go blank, and she has done that a few times -- nobody catches it, but daddy catches everything. She doesn’t like that part,” John said with a laugh. “It does take a special individual to even try.”
Savannah is looking forward to the release of three CDs this summer. One album will consist of mariachi music, Spanish songs on another and a combination of mariachi, Spanish and contemporary on a third.
Savannah has two older sisters, Cheyenne and Ashley.