A Chula Vista educator with a hit musical past now has a connection to the space shuttle.
These days, Joaquin McWhinney's day job is teaching at Olympian High School, but his other job is performing with Big Mountain, a locally based reggae group that is known for its hit cover of Peter Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way." The song eventually made it to No. 6 on the singles chart in 1994. Other hits for Big Mountain included "Touch My Light" (No. 51 in 1992) and "Get Together," which went up to No. 44 in 1995.
The latest success for Quino, as he likes to be called, however -- will be rocketing to outer space rather than up the charts. This week, a song he wrote with guitarist Jose Molina Serrano and Allan Phillips, "Luna Llena," will be played to wake up astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavor, which is set to launch Friday from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
This is the second time Serrano and McWhinney will have one of their songs played to astronauts on the shuttle -- the first time was in 2008 aboard Discovery.
Jose Molina Serrano -- whose wife, along with Quino, helped to write the lyrics, got the music for the song from his friend Phillips, who wrote the composition "Moon" in 1991. Serrano got to know astronaut Greg Chamitoff after their wives became friends when they attended grad school together.
"[In 2008, Chamitoff] called me to tell me he had selected one of the songs from my original album, Only By Grace, that I put out in 1999," Serrano said on Tuesday. "He selected one of my songs, entitled 'Away From Home' to be the wakeup song for the space shuttle Discovery.
"And now, for it to happen again, it is almost, like, mind-boggling.... I called Allan Phillips in January, and I said, 'Alan, I want to do your song "Moon," but I want to put lyrics to it.' Now, Allan Phillips is an Emmy-winning producer, and he says, 'Go ahead,' and within three weeks, we had the song completed," Serrano said. "It is so unbelievable how the same people that were on the first song in 2008 -- which is Quino and Allan Phillips -- they were also involved in this project. So it was meant to be. It's almost like divine intervention. I was just so happy that we were selected. We feel more than honor. And us Latinos, you know, it just makes us feel so good, to keep pushing our race and making more and more strides in every aspect of society, so we are very proud of that, too."
Quino, who sings lead on the song, agrees.
"It's a perfect song to wake up to," the singer said about the recording he describe as "mellow."