Rojas connects with family through love of music

September 22nd, 2022

Music, like baseball, runs in Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas' family.

Though his late mother, Norma Naidenoff, was a pediatrician, she held a strong passion for singing. Rojas' younger sister, Noelia Naidenoff, wanted to follow in their mom's footsteps and study medicine but couldn't make it. So when Rojas paid for Norma's recording sessions in 2018, Noelia joined her mother in the studio as she finished an album. The producer noticed Noelia's interest and told her about courses in the music business, setting in motion a new path in life.

Noelia met Andrés Urbina, also known as the producer TANATOX, six years ago at a school in Caracas, Venezuela. Andrés then introduced Carlos Aponte, his longtime friend and artist Cpro. The trio quickly formed a bond, with Andrés and Carlos taking Noelia under their wing in what can be a tough industry for women. She quickly saw that Andrés and Carlos were creating amazing music but had no order, so she put the music engineering aspect of her journey aside to become their manager.

This past February, one month after Norma's passing from breast cancer, Noelia, Carlos and Andrés came to the United States with aspirations of beginning a record label. They began mulling options, then decided to pitch the project to Rojas, who asked his sister what he could do. Rojas felt offering financial support to sustain the concept could be his way of helping, just like when the Reds gave his 16-year-old self a chance at professional baseball with a contract.

"This was just meant for me to give her an opportunity to actually work on music, especially after what my mom did with her own record that she produced with my sister," Rojas said. "So my sister did an incredible job with that. I think it came out really well, and I feel like I just wanted to give my sister an opportunity to have something in life so she can work on her dreams."

Thus, the MR Music Label LLC, came to be. Its name pays homage to Rojas' initials.

It's not an outlandish endeavor for Rojas, who appeared in the music video for "Súbelo" by Anuel AA, Myke Towers & Jhay Cortez last November. Over the years, he has gotten close to artists thanks to relationships made through baseball. Rojas intends to ask for professional advice -- and perhaps even work together in the future. Over the offseason, Rojas is willing to learn in his free time and sees this as a possible post-playing career avenue. But rest assured -- he will not be pulling a José Reyes or Yoán Moncada and going behind the mic.

MR Music Label will be based both in Miami and Venezuela, where recordings take place at LADOSI. On visits to Miami, there will be a place for studio time. Rojas calls the trio young and hungry, and he hopes to see it book some local shows before expanding to other Latin American countries.

"I don't see it as a job or work," Noelia said via interpreter Daniel Álvarez. "It's just something that I enjoy, and I like waking up everyday and going on the group chat and say, 'What are we going to do today? Do we have any plans? What's up for today?' For me and Miggy, it's also about continuing Norma's legacy and what she started, what she did by singing. We feel it's something that we owe to her to continue with that legacy.

"We've had many labels for our whole life -- not only being brother but also best friend. More like a father figure to me. But no matter what label they put on us, we're always going to be siblings, and it's always going to be in our blood. So it's just incredible to work with him, and it's very, very special."

Part of what made Rojas believe in the project was TANATOX's production talent. The label won't pigeonhole artists, though it will gravitate toward the genres of reggaeton, trap and slow hip-hop. Rojas also was confident because of Cpro's songwriting ability.

While Cpro is MR Music Label's only arist at the moment, the goal is to discover and elevate new Venezuelan artists. Many like Cpro previously self-released albums and posted content on YouTube. MR Music Label intends to provide a bigger platform, with Rojas equating the possibility to reaching the big leagues of music.

"You're going to be like a scout out there," Rojas said. "You're going to be scouting talent, and you will see people that you like their music and they probably don't have an agent or they have an agent but they're not OK with. You go and get some more artists, and that's my goal. My goal is to create a really good relationship like I have in baseball, but on the music side, and hopefully we can actually bring some more talent to our label."

The debut single, "Todo Va a Estar Bien" (Everything will be fine) was purposely chosen because of the tough times Aponte and Noelia have dealt with. The music video revolves around family, and the idea of not worrying too much and enjoying the little moments. They want listeners to fall for the personal and relatable story behind the lyrics.

"It was a priority because we've dealt with anxiety issues and mental health issues, and to start making a huge impact by releasing the song with this message knowing that many people out there are having those issues as well and maybe they don't speak out about it," Aponte said via interpreter Daniel Álvarez. "But they've reached out to us saying, 'I identify with this song.' It was something very important for us to start making that impact with the song. Of course, we're going to have songs about many other topics."

"WAYTA" (What Are You Talking About), their follow-up single with Akapellah, Gona and Deokhan, falls more in line with radio-friendly and club fare. It showcases the versatility the label wants to display. By collaborating with Akapellah, who has a big fan following, the trio aims to get the word out about the label's mission and sound through social media platforms. Rather than buy followers, MR Music Label wants the marketing to organically happen.

There is not much more powerful than music. For Urbina, a day without music is a lost day. A world without music is empty. His favorite thing to do is wake up, open his laptop and see what he can create. Aponte aspires for the label to get big so it can serve as an example of what can be accomplished by other young people in Venezuela with similar passion.

"Despite the country situation that we all know, the music scene is getting better, and now you're seeing more artists playing in Venezuela and also believing in the Venezuelan talent and signing more Venezuelan artists, no matter the type of music that they do or how young they are," Urbina said via interpreter Daniel Álvarez. "They're believing and trusting more in the Venezuelan talent, and it's something that you can clearly see with everything. Some Venezuelan bands and artists are doing from outside the country, and it's very good to see, and it's only going to going to get better."