Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Singer dancer and teacher Allison Reyes finds a creative sanctuary in Somerville.

I was luck to connect with Somerville's Allison Reyes. This young woman is part of a musical group Testi5, where she sings and dances, she also teaches ballet, and has a strong bond with her church, and the Dominican community.

As an artist--how has it been for you living in Somerville?

Living in Somerville has opened up amazing opportunities for me to grow, I've been able to sing in churches around the city, teach dance teams in those same churches, and met incredible people. I was part of the choir at school, the jazz band, and the dance team. It has been completely different than when I lived in Rhode Island. Somerville has such a tight knit community. It was really surprising when I experienced the opportunities that were presented to me, and to learn and put these things in practice.

I have interviewed a number of Brazilian artists. There is a large community around here. You are from the Dominican Republic. Tell us about the Dominican community, and the artists that work and play in our city?

Since we've only been living here for three years we haven't really had a chance to learn much about the Dominican community here in Somerville. I have met many Salvadorians and Brazilians, but I have only met a few Dominican. Because of this--every Dominican I meet becomes a friend and connection. We are so proud of being Dominicans and we would love to be part of events where people can meet people of different Latino descents-- once everything goes back to normal.

A video of you singing a song (titled "Lléname") takes place in a church. I get the impression that you have a strong sense of spirituality. Tell us about your relationship with the church.

I've been part of the church my whole life, I've dedicated years of my life serving at the church, I danced, sang and even used to work with kids at church. However being part of the church is not what defines me as a Christian, is my relationship with God that is most important to me.

Your Dad has been a big influence on you, and he is the founder of your band, Testi5. Can you talk a bit about this? You have a number of other musicians as well that you work with. How did you hook up?

Ever since I have been conscious my dad was either working or playing for the church. Whenever he was practicing at home, I would go and sing along to the music he was practicing to. It was a lot of fun, he never pressured me to be part of music. I always did it because I wanted to.
My dad met Eddy (the drummer of our band) at church. He was playing with a guest that came over for an event at our church in RI, and my dad went to greet him and exchanged numbers. After that Eddy introduced my dad to Johann and Joel (guitarist and drummer). and they became friends, and that's how it all started.

Describe your music in a few lines... and why should we experience it?

The goal of our music is to reach the hearts of everyone who listens to it. Nowadays we are living in times of uncertainty and fear. With our music we want to bring hope and perseverance. When people go through their toughest moments, we want our music to make them feel safe and reassured that God is with them through every step of the way.

You are a dancer as well--is there a lot of interplay between your dance and your singing, etc...

Before I was a singer I was a dancer, and it is a huge part of me. So when my dad proposed to me to be the main singer of Testi5, I made sure to let him know that dance was also going to be a part of it. A dancer and singer is not something commonly seen in the Christian community, so I really would love to be different , and show those Christians who would like to pursue both careers that it can be done.

You are a graduate of Somerville High. Did you have any mentors there that influenced you?

Going to Somerville high was tough for me for the first year. I had transferred as a junior to a completely new school and since I'm extremely shy so it was really hard for me to make friends. However I did have incredible teachers. My AP US History teacher Ms. Santos was always extremely helpful when it came to anything I needed. She actually came to the first concert Testi5 ever did, and in our first music video called "Dueño de mi Corazón" she was right there in the crowd cheering me on. Another teacher who was always super supportive and really impacted my life was Ms. Massillon, my World History teacher. I used to teach her daughter ballet, she would come to my dance recitals and she would always make sure I was doing well in every aspect of my life. She was truly an angel sent from heaven; I want to be like them when I grow up.

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