By Jeremy Bradley
Angel Reynoso’s 30th birthday had a lot of what you’d expect: family singing, cake cutting, and phones recording. What made this birthday so different was where it took place — he was in a hospital room. The day before, he’d had a seizure, was rushed to intensive care and had emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
“It kind of was slowly told to me by the nurse that, you know, you almost didn’t make it,” says Reynoso. “It was my birthday and the first thing I did was sing happy birthday to myself, just as a way to stay empowered in that moment.
“Growing up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, music had always been an important part of his life. His father listened to classical and Latin music, his mother loved merengue, and later his cousins introduced him to hip hop and R&B. “I would always just kind of come up with my own melodies and think of my own little shows and I was always creating,” he says.