Carlos Reynosa at sunset with his flute. Photo courtesy Carlos Reynosa

Idyllwild artist Carlos Reynosa is no stranger to fame on a scale few attain. But let’s start at the beginning. Born in Williams, Arizona, a middle child in a family of 12, Reynosa hails from a diverse heritage. His father, of Yaqui lineage, migrated from Sinaloa, Mexico, to Williams as a young man and married a beautiful French Cherokee woman whose grandmother walked the Cherokee trail from Oklahoma to California.

Reynosa spent his formative summers captivated by the sound of native flutes at powwows in Flagstaff, Arizona. “The flute spoke to me and told me who I was,” remembers Reynosa. “It told me I was part of the Earth. I learned I could move sound like the wind.

“I spent a lot of time alone in a tree house, learning to hear the emotion in sound.”

Making flutes from elderberry branches, Reynosa would choose the pitch for his flute on the pentatonic scale by the branch’s radius. He learned how the flute was an instrument of love and prayer, “… a woman could hear a man’s passion in his music,” also remembering how he came to understand that nature would respond to a prayerful flute.

When his family moved to Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley of greater Los Angeles, Reynosa ran the beaches whenever possible and came to appreciate lifestyles in the barrio. Falling in love with the music of Cat Stevens and out of sheer need to memorize the lyrics, he taught himself to read. A star athlete, football and track were his games; Reynosa excelled and could have ridden a ticket through college but life took him in an altogether different direction.

Spotted by a casting agent, Reynosa began acting almost accidently on the sit-com “Mr. Merlin.” When his agency decided he needed a new name, they cast “Carl Rey” in the 1981 film “Graduation Day,” where he worked with Christopher George and Vanna White. But it was while working in the valley that an inevitable modeling gig met exotic dancing and Reynosa found himself cast as one of the first Chippendales.

From there, modeling jobs pulled him to New York City to sit for, among others, Andy Warhol, then drawn to Europe he shot with talents like Fabricio Gianni, Versace and Antonio Lopez, to name but a few world-class photographers who found in Reynosa an exotic subject.

A student throughout, with great competitive discipline a in world of decadence, he learned the art of photography from the best while earning boatloads of cash.  Reynosa returned to LA to open Prima Models in Venice Beach at just 23 years of age.

With a natural gift for combining edgy backgrounds in the barrio with high fashion and an eye for discovering extraordinary talent, Reynosa shot 52 covers for high-fashion publications like Elle, New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Billabong, Rolling Stone, Quiksilver, Calvin Klein, Surf Company, and signed young talent like Cameron Diaz, Hillary Swank, Milla Jovanovich, Johnny Depp and Will Smith to his agency.

He said he consistently protected their innocence and help chart their early course for the successful careers they’ve all achieved.

A writer’s strike put an indefinite kink in print and film work so Reynosa learned to play guitar. In three months, he joined the house band at the Roxberry and they opened later that year for Stone Temple Pilots.

Combining flute with electric sounds, Reynosa toured regionally. He recorded his first album in 1996. In 1999, he recorded the song “My Brother” for the soundtrack to the award-winning film “Naturally Native.” The album went on to win two Native American Music Awards.

In 2000, his song “Passion” was featured on Keith Secola’s soundtrack to the movie “Homeland.” In 2003, his album, “Baby Blue” was nominated for Best Independent Recording of the Year by the NAMMY’s. In 2005, Reynosa released “For the People” with Wildhorse Singers and Dancers, holding at 10 on Billboard’s New Age charts for more than three months.

It was during this time that destiny offered Reynosa an expanded life. While performing at the San Jacinto powwow, “Tawny saw me,” he smiles. They began their life together in Idyllwild, where three beautiful children now 15, 11 and 4, were “all born at home,” he states proudly.

“With this life,” said Reynosa, “I find I’m still impatient to get my creativity into the world, to impart emotion through music, and through my lens when photographing clients, brings a great joy. Music has a need to be heard, emotions have a need to be expressed. I am home in these mountains, where the songs of wolves and raven, frogs and squirrels sing through my flute.”

When asked what he is hopeful for, Reynosa responds, “If it wasn’t for kind people I wouldn’t be here. Artists face life with deeper difficulty; it’s learning to focus my music or photography in the moment, for the magic I seek exists only in the moment.”

Reynosa plays guitar, flute, bass and keys. His 11th album “Loss” is due out in June. He performs at Idyology at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 13, for Mother’s Day, followed by a gig at Café Aroma on Sunday evening, May 20. June 1, he opens the Manzanita Cantina with a three-piece band including family members. Reynosa can best be contacted through Facebook.