Juan Ernesto Fernando, also known to friends and others as JEF, is an American Guitarist. Although his name may not be familiar to many listeners at the moment, working alongside names like Stevie Wonder, Jhene’ Aiko and Jennifer Lopez are bound to change that. In fact, by the end of this write up, readers and fans of the craft will have insight and understanding on how JEF was able to work with these artists, as well as find out what inspires and motivates him to continue pursuing his career as a Professional Guitarist.
JEF and I took a trip down memory lane as he expressed the top movies that were his inspirations behindfavoring the Guitar. “Before I ever played, I genuinely loved listening to the guitar.” JEF proclaimed as La Bamba and Back to the Future were noted as large influences behind his heavy interest in the Guitar; due to the solo guitar scenes in both movies. At the age of 12, JEF joined his first Jazz ensemble at school from the 7th to 11th grade where he learned how to play the guitar and how to play in unison with other band members. After graduating from high school, Fernando attended California State University, Los Angeles where he majored in Business Finance with aspirations on building a career within corporate America.
That’s the direction Fernando felt himself going until he reached what he described as a “Turning Point” in his life at the University where he then told me, “After this, I knew playing was what I truly wanted to do.” That turning point was recalled in the spring of 2009. During this time Sean “Puffy” Combs was preparing to air the last season of his reality television series ‘Making the Band’ and the competition had come to the semi-finals. JEF was currently preparing to graduate with his Bachelor’s degree while finding himself in a position to move on to the final round. “The experience was overwhelming, but it gave me something to fight for”, Fernando expressed; as he described the heart breaking loss he suffered. A loss suffered in the eyes of complete strangers may discourage some, if not many from further developing their skills, but this experience fueled JEF to new heights. After the competition, JEF dedicated focus toward completing his senior year to which he graduated and began shifting into a new chapter of his life.
Fernando spent over the next 2 years working a day job and performing jam sessions with various artists at night; Christina Aguilera, Bone Thugs & Harmony, and Xzibit just to name a few. Then his hard work began pay off as calls started to come more frequently while on tour with Jhene Aiko’s band. Calls to audition for music legends such as Stevie Wonder as well as Earth Wind, and Fire were described as surreal experiences for JEF. “Above all, the most humbling experience so far was going on the South American tour with Stevie Wonder; it blew my mind.”
Today in 2016, JEF continues to perform Tuesday nights at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood, as he did where he began doing free gigs for exposure and networking purposes before receiving that fortunate phone call from Jhene Aiko’s team to go on tour with her in 2012. He has traveled various parts of the world, taking trips Nationwide from Western Europe to South America. Along his travels, he continues to network with instrumentalists, and collaborate on sets with singers and songwriters such as Jennifer Lopez and Ciara, them being the most recent.
“Everything has been levels for me, and I intend to get to the next one.” says JEF. And He has reached a new level in every step of his journey. Despite the adversity, the long and sometimes sleepless nights practicing for shows, getting on numerous flights, and poor eating at times, JEF has persevered and continues to pursue his career as the amazing upcoming Guitarist that he is.