One of Lytle’s own stars, Matt Hawk was born in South Texas on February 11, 1973, as Matias Villareal. His dad was a ranch hand, and ultimately the family moved to Lytle where Matt grew up. He graduated from Lytle High School in 1991 and attended college at Palo Alto; but, after only one semester, where he landed on the Dean’s list, he decided to devote his time to music.
Although Matt had been drawn to the guitar as early as six or seven, his first introduction was at age 18. But, within a year, he got his first gig. After leaving college, Matt was recruited by his uncle to play in his band, whose style was called conjunto – a Spanish-style bar scene type of music. Matt was willing to learn all the Spanish instruments, but he was always more interested in the simplicity of the acoustic or electric guitars.
The genre of music with which Matt is most at home is country all the way. He recalls that in his early life he was influenced by the old timers whose music he heard on his parents’ record player. Another influence in his style is his Spanish background and Native American influence. The latter is evident in the “Feathers up, my friends” quote he is often heard to use, whose meaning hails back to a native spiritual blessing which means that there are no worries – “Be as light as a feather.”
Also relating to his Native American interests, Matt’s stage name is Matt Hawk. The sharp eyesight of the hawk symbolizes the need to be aware of what’s around us, and Matt says that that thought “gives him guidance and balance.” And Matt is proud to be known and recognized by his peers, family, friends, fans, and even strangers as both Matt Hawk and Matt Villareal both inside and outside his community.
As an entertainer, using his talents to contribute to his fellow man is important to Matt. On that note, and apropos to the current rainy conditions in South Texas, the National Weather Service revealed its new public service announcement – one to which Matt contributed – aimed at making drivers more aware of the dangers of high water crossings. Matt Hawk created a rhyming, repetitive, and catchy tune using the trademarked words of Turn Around, Don’t Drown. He says his inspiration was the sad drowning of Alyssa Ramirez a few years ago. Touched by that tragedy, Matt used his guitar and vocal talent to create and donate the song which he believes will be a timely reminder. He says he wrote the jingle with the repetitious and upbeat spirit that attracts the younger generation and inspires children to listen and sing along.
Matt adds that one highlight of creating the jingle was working with Flaco Jimenez on the Spanish version. He feels that this was a rewarding accomplishment.
The writing of the Turn Around, Don’t Drown song was also inspired by Matt’s own children, as the tragedy of Alyssa’s drowning made him aware of their vulnerability. Matt is proud of the accomplishments and tenacity of his two children, Shyanne and Dylan. Shyanne graduated this year from Lytle, and Dylan is attending school in Poteet as a freshman.
Matt’s day job is working for Benton City Water outside of Lytle, but his passion is as a singer/songwriter, which he feels he has been blessed to be able to pursue. Performing at various places with diverse people fuels his creativity. And he is pleased to be able to donate up to two shows a month. For example, this October he will be donating time to the community for the National Night out in Devine. Meeting and greeting folks while performing and knowing that folks are enjoying listening to his singing gives Matt a sense of satisfaction.