Last December, shoppers at a grocery store in Massachusetts stopped to listen to a moving live rendition of “O Holy Night.” But what was so special about a song we’ve all heard dozens of times? The man behind the microphone, who managed to get dozens of customers to pause and listen to him sing, happened to be a a store employee named Guilherme Assunção. Soon, it was more than just the people inside the supermarket who had noticed Assunção’s impressive pipes: The young man caught the attention of Berklee College of Music — his “dream” school — and was recently accepted into their music program. Of course, the moment you hear what comes out of his mouth, you’ll totally understand why.
Assunção, 23, originally came to the United States from Brazil. The 23-year-old — whose coworkers call him Gilly — was working at Russo’s, a small specialty grocery store in Watertown, first as a dishwasher and then as a deliveryman to put himself through school. What you wouldn’t know from watching the clip above is that Assunção was simply doing a mic check while setting up for other singers who were coming in to perform when he belted out those dramatic lines.
So far, Russo’s video of Assunção singing has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times. But most important, it caught the eyes of instructors at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. They later invited Assunção to apply, and he has now learned that he has been accepted. “My heart stopped, I didn’t know what to do,” Assunção told WCVB, describing what it felt like to open the acceptance letter. “And then the first word was ‘congratulations,’ and I was so happy.”
Obviously a hardworker, Assunção now needs help affording Berklee’s tuition, which is an eye-watering $42,000 per year. He’s set up a GoFundMe page to help with college expenses, and you can donate if you’d like. So far, he and his family at Russo’s have raised more than $11,000 towards his dream. And fortunately, Assunção isn’t letting the issue of tuition get him down. “I’m super excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve just got to make it happen.”