Student Spotlight: Gabriel Duran

Courtesy // Gabriel Duran

Sonoma State student Gabriel Duran can be seen performing on campus anywhere from Open Mic Nights to the annual CineNoma film festival.

Sonoma State University students may have heard of this singer-songwriter who spends much of his time collaborating and jamming to different musical favorites on his guitar in the courtyards of the university. This individual is fourth-year student Gabriel Duran.

Aside from singing, Duran is a multi-talent, proficient in playing the guitar, piano, as well as the saxophone. While he grew up, his music inspiration derived from Motown and other soulful R&B artists.

“I guess it was kind of weird because I never really listened to the current music on the radio until freshman year of high school,” Duran said.

Duran started his musical career performing at church at age nine. He has performed in front of crowds of up to 800 people. However, his confidence to perform in front of so many did not come along until he started college.

When asked about his best memory at Sonoma State, he said that it was during one of the first times he began playing his guitar and singing in front of the library.

“I had always been very shy about my talents and ability to play music and sing, but I saw college as an opportunity to change that and grow,” Duran said. “I sat down and just began playing and singing. I think it was one of the first times that I allowed myself to both be humble and vulnerable in such a public setting.”

Duran’s goal while showing his talent to the world is not to brag about the individual gifts he says he was blessed with. Instead, it is his own self-remedy to try to grow and overcome an obstacle that had hindered him from doing what he loved with confidence.

“It was rewarding in terms of my own sense of happiness in those moments, because I frankly stopped caring if people thought it was weird or if they thought I was trying to show off. It was literally something I did for myself and I still continue to play music outside when I can find the time.”

Speaking of trying to find the time, Duran’s role at Sonoma State is much more than sharing his music with others in the courtyards. Duran is also one of the Associated Student Production’s (ASP) directors where he helps produce events on campus. He helps plan and create live events such as Open Mic Nights, Tunes @ Noon, We Speak, Sonoma State Unplugged, Day in the Sun, and many more events that are being planned for the upcoming school year. He pursued this job for the opportunity to build community on this campus.

“Music and art are universal, at least in my opinion. They allow people to tell their own stories in a way that can relate to all walks of life,” Duran said. In addition, he has also involved himself in a program through the HUB titled the CORE leadership.

“The program teaches its students how to use their passions in a positive and healthy way to not only transform the communities and people around them, but also how to improve your own sense of self,” said Duran.

Duran’s goal for this school year is driven heavily from what he has chosen to involve himself with. He wants this campus to instill a value of unity, community and love by becoming an agent of change wherever he goes in life.

“Gabe is one of the most humble people I’ve met,” said Sonoma State alumna Cara Fuqua. “With that kind of talent, you’d expect him to be so full of himself, but he’s actually so lovely.”

While Duran currently doesn’t know what career he plans to pursue post-college, he does have an underlying moral that he plans to follow through with.

“As a sociology major and as a person who wants to see a world with more equality and love for all humans, I feel that educating people on things that influence the worlds around them as well as the parts they cannot understand or see, has the ability to put people on the same page,” said Duran. “Of course it is not this simple, but I am up for the challenge.”

Duran welcomes others to collaborate, jam and write music with him.