A Ben Bolt Middle School student won first place at the 2015 Corpus Christi Idol held Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

“I saw the ad on Facebook and I figured it would be a good way to get my name out there a little more,” said Joe Anthony Perez, eighth grader at Ben Bolt Middle School.

Perez, son of Joe Anthony Perez Sr. and Letty Perez, has been playing the violin and singing with the Varsity Mariachi Azul Y Oro for three years.

“I started Mariachi music in the sixth grade and from there on my passion for mariachi music has just grown extremely,” Perez said. “Especially since it's something I get to do with my friends.”

Mariachi music lets people express their passion for Spanish music and it shows off his culture, Perez stated.

There were three days of auditions before finalists were named. “Interacting with the other contestants back stage was memorable,” he said. “They were amazing and funny.”

Corpus Christi Idol had 20 finalists completing for first place. “I zone out, like I get into my own little area and think of my stage presence,” he said.

He has won Mariachi Vargas, talent shows, opened up for Los Palominos, Sebastian De La Cruz (who sang the National Anthem for the NBA finals), and was on the Domingo Show with Azul Y Oro.

“My goal is to become famous one day,” he explained. “ I would love to go to college at Texas State University in San Marcos and study music and theater.”

Perez received a trophy and $300 in prize money. More than $6,550 was raised.

The winners were selected by the audience.

All proceeds from the fundraising singing contest goes to fund theatre scholarships and student program needs for the TAMUCC Department of Theatre and Dance.