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OCRegister: Sean Oliu '20 Selected Artist of the Year for Vocal Music

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Karlie Carlson

Sean Oliu '20 pictured with Servite Director of Choral Music Mrs. Renee Cahill

By Greg Mellen

From rising Telemundo singer to president of his high school choral program, from Mouseketeer to country crooning opener for LeAnn Rimes, Sean Oliu’s singing career has been as varied as it has been successful.

Not bad for a kid just out of high school.

Oliu, a recent graduate of Servite High, writes that he grew up with his father blasting Bruce Springsteen on road trips and his mother humming Jackson Browne around the house. But it was his grandpa’s collection of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Hank Williams music, which the two of them would listen to and sing while fixing old cars, that grabbed his heart.

“Growing up, I thought ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s country records were what every kid was listening to,” wrote the Anaheim native.

That immersion comes through in his vocal stylings, according to judges who praised his mature, rich and authentic sound.

It also helped Oliu earn recognition as the 2020 vocal music Artist of the Year.

Judge Patrick Goeser of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University, summed up many judges’ reactions remarking on Oliu’s “sincere, easy, musically expressive delivery of the words” and “real honesty in (his) performance that is very moving and inspiring.”

Judge Vanessa Montgomery of Loara High added, “I am not a country music fan, but Sean’s voice is glorious.”

As a submission piece, Oliu used his rendition of the Vince Gill song “Go Rest High on the Mountain,” which he said , “combined elements of what I grew up with and what I’m pursuing today.”

He also liked its message of faith saying, “I grew up in church.”

Oliu’s career has been in an impressive upward arc ever since, as an 11-year-old, he emerged from 6,500 entrants to reach the finals of “La Voz Kids,” Telemundo’s Spanish-language version of “The Voice.” Oliu’s parents signed him up for mariachi as a way to get him to learn Spanish.

While tearing up the mariachi circuit with the Colony Boys in 2017, Oliu earned  a spot on “Club Mickey Mouse,” Disney’s reboot of the “Mickey Mouse Club” on Facebook TV.

Just like that, Oliu went from Colony Boy to “Mouseketeer Sean.”

And in 2018, Oliu got the chance to be Rimes’ opening act for her Christmas Tour stop at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. He is also wrapping up his first album of original music with Nashville writers and musicians.

When not singing, Oliu carved up the ice as captain of the Servite hockey team.

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