Two preachers’ daughters and a Mexican man at The Listening Room

July 21, 2018


It was Friday night and the place was filled with new faces and familiar faces as often happens these days at The Listening Room. As I observed the crowd, I saw my favorite regular that comes here…it is Annie! Annie is large, she is friendly, she is very black and she wags her tail with excitement; I have never seen a dog that seemed to love music as much as Annie.


The performers for the evening were Greg Padilla, Hannah Belle and Xaris Waltman. The  mix of these 3 was one of the most unusual groupings I have seen. Hannah is an outspoken beautiful blonde lady who seems right at home on the stage. She eases any anxiety you might have brought with you and she talks like she is your long-time friend. Her southern drawl is amazing. She comes from a place I had never heard of, Red Lick, Mississippi. She is a 4th grade school teacher who is happily married. Her father is a Baptist preacher…she spoke about the lessons she learned as a child. Her genre of music expertise is “Traditional Country”. She even remarked, “I’m from Red Lick, Mississippi, what else could I do?”


Sitting in the middle of this threesome was a very young lady (she just turned 18). Her name is Xaris Waltman and she is from Gulf Breeze, Florida. Xaris was on a music show you may have seen, called The Voice. Xaris is also the daughter of a Preacher. She is sweet, soft spoken and seemingly very shy. Her beautiful red hair, and her long flowing dress with cowboy boots painted a picture of a country singer…but she is a FOLK singer. Her songs all tell a story in detail and she takes you on her journey immediately. Xaris (pronounced Karis) is talented, shy and sweet.


Then there is the Mexican guy, Greg Padilla. I have seen him before and he is mighty good. The first thing he does when he reaches the stage area is kick off his shoes….he always sings barefoot. Greg has been busy since I last saw him. He has played a lot of gigs, but he has also been writing a lot of songs. Almost every song he did last night was written since I first saw him  a couple of months ago. They were heart felt, sometimes soul jerking lyrics. He often calls himself Soul Mexican. So it is really not necessary to tell you his music is SOULFUL.


True to herself, Hannah teaches with her music. She has lessons in her lyrics that are inspirational and valuable. “I know just who I am”….”Stand up for what you believe”…”Keep your feet on the ground”…She also has a song she claims is corny but I call it delightful. I believe it was called “That’s Just Life”. She says “Life’s just not what its cracked up to be”…”Why can’t I have my cake and eat it too?”..”Grass ain’t always greener on the other side”…she even adds in a line she said she stole from Forrest Gump…”Life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what you will get.”

My favorite song of Hannah Belle’s was about forgiveness. 


I am a big believer in forgiving (it is the only way to set yourself free) Check Hannah Belle out on Belle Forgive…she does a great job with her words and her expression of sheer agony over the process of forgiving.


Virtually all of Hannah Belle’s songs teach; they are lessons of the right way to live and the best way to be happy. To me she just GLOWS as a human being and it shows in her performance. Thank you Hannah Belle.


Xaris Waltman tells a full story with every song. Her words, “Everything looks better in Black & White”….”he sends Kisses from St Louis”…”Wish I had turned away before he caught my eye”.. “he’s gone again, the boy is like the wind”. This song is a description of a distant relationship that is not working out. Xaris is a true folk singer. She even sang an old folk song that tells of a murder; the song was written in the 1800’s and it was powerful.

Her music life has only just begun and I believe she will rise quickly, with her tremendous talent and her family and friends who support her. 


Xaris’ final song of the evening was one she wrote when she was only 12. She said it was the first song she wrote that she actually liked. It was strong and amazingly powerful; especially when you remember she was only 12!  (She declared she still has no idea what its about, and that surprised me). I have no idea what that 12 year old meant but I knew, for me, what it was about). 


From the depths of my soul I believe music  is interpreted differently by each person. A song may mean something to you and yet something entirely different to me.        


Checkout Xaris on Waltman


Greg Padilla shared many new songs with us last night. He sang one that I could feel because I have been there before. “I have to go” is the title and it is about ending a relationship. Lyrics that touch you is Greg’s specialty.

He sang “These Times” which is a story of a haunting feeling he sometimes gets since his divorce. In his moments of doubt, a distance is growing between him and his children. Though he knows its not true and he is still just as devoted to them as ever; he does not have them in his home every day and it causes him to worry and wonder and question himself as a father. In the song he admits, the emotions of it all “knocks me to my knees”…he tells himself “I believe, oh I believe I am good”

The feelings he brought out in that song should show EVERYONE….this man is GOOD!

For Greg’s final song he did a cover and he knocked it out of the park. It is a song by Otis Redding, “These Arms of Mine”…  Yes, this man is GOOD!

Greg Padilla-@soulmexican ...  check him out on


It was an unusual mix. A fabulously beautiful blonde singing traditional country music and speaking to us as though she had known us for years (I feel like her friend now)….A gorgeous, young redhead who sings deep, touching Folk Music  like no other…A barefoot Mexican guy that can belt out a song like nobody’s business. It was a recipe for WOW!


Thank you once again The Listening Room, Jim Pennington for a great night of music

Thank you to Greg Padilla for singing all of those new songs that are wonderful

Thank you to Hannah Belle for your personality, your fabulous music and for being YOU

Thank you to Xaris Waltman for some of the best folk music I have ever heard

Thank you to the wonderful audience; without you there would be no show

Juanita Smith

Music Mom





Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

February 14, 2020

November 17, 2019

Please reload

Recent Posts
  • Grey Facebook Icon