Work hard, dream big, and don't underestimate your health - Orange County Register

Work hard, dream big, and don’t underestimate your health – Orange County Register

When Cal State Fullerton graduate Cindy Shea first picked up the trumpet at age eight, she was asked why she wasn’t interested in a “musical instrument” like the flute or clarinet. Turning that pressure into motivation, Shea was determined to become one of the best trumpet players in the world.

“That was kind of my motto in life,” Shea said. “Anyone who says I can’t do something, I’ll pick it up and try to do it the best I can.”

Her determination pushed Shea to the top of her profession. A two-time Grammy winner is the creator of Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, a mariachi group with over 30 members, all females that formed 23 years ago. To date, the Mariachi singers have recorded 18 albums and amassed 11 nominations across the American and Latin Grammys. The group performs across the country and internationally, including at the Disneyland Resort, a party they have maintained for more than 20 years.

A rebel from the start in a male-dominated area of ​​the music industry, Shea had to use that fighting spirit in an unexpected way while recovering from a stroke on September 12 — or more specifically, a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Doctors told her she was lucky to be alive, Shea looked at her life and career with a different set of eyes than she had a month ago.

“For whatever reason, I’m here,” Shea said. “God saved me, so I feel like I have another chance.”

Her career began from that 8-year-old to her nine-day stay at PIH Health Whittier Hospital in Hacienda Heights. Shea felt that playing the trumpet was an invitation, and during elementary and middle school she took the many lessons and school performance opportunities available.

“I was always trying to lead and start something new that wasn’t there that I thought people would love,” Shea said. “It took hold of this and definitely shaped me for what I was ultimately going to do.”

Shea’s time at Los Altos High School came with several tracks for a budding trumpeter, including band, wind, and brass quintet. She was part of a student group that traveled the world to perform, and immersed herself in every bit of it.

Surrounded by teachers associated with CSUF’s music education program at all levels of her training, including while attending university summer music camps, Titan has been on Shea’s radar from an early age. She credits her time at CSUF to prepare her as a musician and businesswoman.

“Cal State Fullerton was actually a target for me because I knew they had one of the best music education programs,” Shea said. “They taught me how to be a great leader, and I give that to the next generation.”

While at CSUF, Shea was alongside talented musicians who shared her motivation and strong work ethic. After experiencing a number of professional experiences, she took off on her own and formed Mariachi Divas in 1999.

Shea had big goals – writing, arranging, recording and producing her own music, and getting that music on the radio and in record stores. In the world before social media, these were no small tasks.

But according to her words, Shea worked tirelessly to realize her dream, and in 2009, Mariachi singers found a foothold, winning a US Grammy for Best Mexican Regional Album of the Year for her fourth album, “Canciones de Amor.”

After Shea and Mariachi Divas wrapped up a show during a screening of the Disney Pixar movie “Coco” at the El Capitan theater last month, she experienced a thunderclap headache, a warning sign of a brain hemorrhage. Her time in the intensive care unit was the longest she had been away from playing the trumpet in 40 years.

Expected to make a full recovery, Shea remains cautious as she returns to playing the trumpet due to the stress and strain used to hit those high notes. At CSUF’s “50 Years of Cultura” Community Resource Center Celebration last month, Shea shared with the Titan community how powerful the impact school has had on her career and how fear about her health has transformed her lifestyle.

“If there was any advice I could give right now… it would be to work as hard as you can and dedicate everything you need to make your dream come true, but also remember that if you don’t have your health, you won’t be able to enjoy your dream,” Shea said.

With a new outlook on life that she promised would include a balance between hard work and rest, Shea counts her blessings today rather than worrying about tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice,” Shea said. I’m alive and I’m so grateful. I can’t wait to see Cindy’s rerun and what she has to offer the music world. I think it would be something very special.”

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