Most Influential

Most Influential, Arts: Jose Iñiguez

Educator, musician

By Nat Rubiolicht February 28, 2024

Jose Iñiguez

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Jose Iñiguez discovered the art of opera through a PBS special. As a teenager, he came across a program featuring a tenor singing an aria while watching TV with his dad. “Everyone gave him attention and respect,” Iñiguez says. “He could actually be emotional, and that could be celebrated.”

Growing up in an agricultural family in Mattawa, Grant County, Iñiguez hadn’t considered that a career in music could be an option. And though his path into the field wasn’t a straight one, music stuck with Iñiguez from a young age and eventually became a major piece of his life.

Iñiguez is the president, executive director and founder of Encanto Arts, a nonprofit dedicated to engaging young people from underserved and underprivileged communities in Washington in arts, culture, and educational experiences.

“I’m a professional musician,” he says. “I would have never thought I’d be able to do that. But it took a lot of hard work, and it took me creating my own program to do it.”

Iñiguez knew that the study of music was inherently unbalanced from his time at Central Washington University, where he studied vocal performance. Most of his peers had received private lessons and had been practicing music all their lives. Though he felt leagues behind, the support of just one professor allowed him to train and “build a foundation in music and theory,” he recalls.

“Growing up in fields, at that economic status, (music) was not a priority. Tabletop issues were the priority,” Iñiguez says. “As an immigrant farm worker, it’s about getting a job that’s going to provide for your family.”

But Iñiguez realized that his degree path was leading him on the road to becoming a music educator, and he “didn’t have the passion to be a teacher” at the time. So, he decided to switch focuses and get a degree in business management from the University of Phoenix, eventually starting his own company that he still runs today called Hydrotonix Water, which provides online support and products for water filtration systems. “Sometimes you need to have that extra stream of income, especially in the music business,” he adds.

He made his way back to music in 2018 when he founded Encanto Arts. He puts his business education to use through organizing the business side of the nonprofit’s performances, as well as his vocal training as the organization’s tenor. Over the past five years, Encanto Arts has educated young people in classical music through its performances, youth voice lessons, scholarship programs with Washington universities, and musical exchanges between Washington and Colima, Mexico.

Iñiguez considers his work with the organization to be a “scalpel,” he says. “We’re providing arts to a specific group of people that are in need of it.”

While his work aims to make the landscape of classical music more diverse, he tells young performers of color to “be prepared to perform with people that don’t look like you. … Try to make sure to not get distracted, and really try to make it about the music.”

Follow Us

Movers & Shakers

Movers & Shakers

Profiling the people who shaped Seattle

Back in April 1968, Seattle magazine published a feature similar to our Most Influential issue, focusing on those who "truly call the shots."

Most Influential, Sports: Kalen Deboer

Most Influential, Sports: Kalen Deboer

Former University of Washington football coach

He started out small, leading Sioux Falls to three NAIA championships in his five years as head coach. He then worked his way up the NCAA food chain with stops at Southern Illinois and Western Michigan... Photo by Scott Eklund / Redbox Pictures

Most Influential, Arts: Shin Yu Pai

Most Influential, Arts: Shin Yu Pai

Poet, author, podcaster

Pai is an award-winning author, podcaster, and the city of Seattle’s 2023-24 Civic Poet. She has spent more than two decades in the literary field, penning 13 books... Photo by Sung Park

Most Influential, Education: Quinton Morris

Most Influential, Education: Quinton Morris

Artist, educator

I’m committed to educating and helping students transform their lives through Key to Change. My goal is to expand the program to reach more students... Photo by Sung Park