Manny Medina Jr.’s life would have been vastly different if he weren’t wait-listed at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Medina, 40, who grew up in Miami and graduated from Christopher Columbus High School, ended up going to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He quickly embraced the city’s rich country music culture.
“I went there not knowing what I wanted to do,” said Medina, who had started on the guitar when he was 10. “I got into the music scene pretty quickly and that was it. Things happen for a reason.”
Now Medina, who grew up on Cuban music, hip-hop and rock ’n’ roll, tours the nation with country star Kip Moore as his bassist.
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“It’s so much fun,” he said. “Kip’s songs are relatable and open for interpretation.”
Medina, the son of Miami tech pioneer Manny Medina, can’t wait to play in Miami at the Tequila Bay Country Music Festival — something he hasn’t had a chance to do with Moore. He said his whole family and a lot of friends are coming.
“When I first heard about it, I was like wait, where?” he recalled.
Medina got his first guitar from his grandmother, who played the guitar and sang. He said he never listened to country growing up, but remembers hearing his first country song in high school — Garth Brooks’ Rodeo.
“It just wasn’t something people listened to,” he said.
When he was younger, he thought he might end up following his dad. His namesake father founded and led Terremark until its $2 billion sale to Verizon in 2011. He is now behind a new multinational cybersecurity and data analytics company, Cyxtera Technologies.
The younger Medina said his father always encouraged him to follow his dreams.
“I have been very lucky in that respect,” he said.
When he got to college in Nashville, he began playing with friends and joining bands. He said he’s been in Nashville for about 15 years now, but he still loves being home. And he brings home wherever he is on tour — from his Heat gear to Cuban coffee.
Manny Medina said being able to see his son perform — especially in Miami — is a very “proud moment.”
“Miami is part of his DNA,” he said.