Translated From: Vicente Fernández, the last great Mexican ranchera singer, dies …
Discovered on: 2021-12-12 15:22:16
“While they applaud, I keep singing,” Vicente Fernández used to say at his concerts.
At each concert, Vicente Fernández enthused the audience: “While you applaud, I keep singing,” he said. People would take him at his word and clap until the show lasted four or five hours.
That was one of the trademarks of “Chente”, the nickname by which it was known in Mexico. They also called him El Charro de Huentitán.
With his death, which occurred this Sunday at the age of 81 and was informed by his family through his official account on Instagram, the era of the great interpreters of regional Mexican music ends, a period that began with Tito Guízar in the years 30, Pedro Infante in the following decade and continued with Jorge Negrete, Javier Solís and José Alfredo Jiménez.
Fernández was the heir to this saga, and one of the most recognized voices in Latin America.
The singer had been hospitalized since the previous week, after a relapse of the accident he had in his room last August.
In his 50-year career sold more than 65 million records, made 25 movies, and won eight Grammar Awardsmand Latino.
Until now there is no artist of that musical genre who occupies his position.
Chente was the owner of a peculiar style of singing ranchera songs, the most characteristic music of Mexico.
“I had a powerful voice that combined with another very velvety“, tells BBC Mundo Pável Granados, director of the National Sound Library.
“There is something different that Vicente Fernández put to ranchera music. His repertoire is very broad, from the original songs of the genre to others like the bolero,” says Granados.
The subtitles of this note are all names of songs popularized by the late musician.
Chente liked the contact with his audience.
In bullrings, palenques (auditoriums where cockfights are held) or theaters, he attended without hesitation to people who asked him to interpret their favorite songs.
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“There are two types of singers, those who live by singing and those of us who live to sing“, confessed in an interview to the magazine Who.
“My vice is to go on stage and listen to the applause, I don’t care about the money.”
In Mexico, singers often give two-hour concerts, often accompanied by other time-consuming artists.
Fernandez no. His shows lasted at least three hours, and perhaps that is why he is one of the singers for whom Mexicans feel the most pride.
“The keys to my soul”
But it was not always like this.
Vicente Fernandez Gomez was born on February 17, 1940 in Huentitán El Alto, at that time a rural neighborhood north of Guadalajara, Jalisco.
His father wanted to build a cattle ranch but was only able to buy a few cattle that he kept in a small stable.
When he finished primary school, Chente started milking cows, because he did not want to continue studying.
But the sale of milk was insufficient and so the family followed the path of thousands of poor Jalisco residents and emigrated to Tijuana, Baja California.
In the border town with the United States, Vicente He worked as a bricklayer, painter and cabinetmaker.And he had his first audience.
In 2002 Fernández was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The artist claimed that construction painters fought to have him as a student.
And not because of his skills with the walls and furniture, but because the teenager He sang all the time and made the working day more enjoyable.
Chente worked long enough to buy her sister Alejandra a dress to celebrate her 15th birthday.
Then he gave up painting and cement and took a job as a cashier at an uncle’s restaurant, but it didn’t last long either: the young man spent more time singing between tables than collecting money.
“From one ranch to another”
In the mid-1960s, Fernández emigrated to Mexico City where he sang in restaurants, nightclubs, and private parties.
It was a very difficult time, remembered. Their first son, Vicente, was born prematurely and they couldn’t afford a hospital to normalize his growth.
They took him home and improvised an incubator with hot water bottles and a light bulb “the kind that heat up carnitas,” he confessed.
The boy, named Vicente, saved his life. He was the first-born of the four children that the singer had: three boys and one woman.
One of them, Alejandro is also a singer although in his career he had some disagreements with his father: El Potrillo, as he is known in Mexico, ventured into the pop style, something that Chente publicly disapproved of.
After the difficult episode with his first son, the path for Vicente Fernández began to clear when he was allowed to sing on the XEX radio station, the most important in the country.
Then, in 1966, the singer Javier Solís died, who was the main artist of traditional Mexican music, a strong market that suddenly ran out of an idol.
It was the opportunity I was waiting for. The record companies that used toor they rejected “they started calling me”, counted.
With his charro singer style “which redeems the culture of the province as something valuable”, he gradually became a successor to those icons of ranchera music “, explains the director of the National Music Library.
According to Granados, “the music industry, the people, the press, television needed to have someone who lived up to the expectations of something that represents us nationally.”
“Many wanted to look like him but they did not know well how to build their own style“He remembers.” It was naturally one of his great successes. “
It was then that the legend of El Charro de Huentitán began.
Fernández recorded more than one hundred records and albums, in addition to participating in about twenty films.
In the movies, he starred in the same role as a taco vendor who becomes a millionaire and loses his fortune by being forced to distribute it among his four partners, as a revolutionary leader or a village thief.
International fame you came with the song Volver, Volver, written especially for him by the well-known composer Fernando Z. Maldonado.
But his greatest success, he said, was the response of the public at live performances.
In February 2009, he sang in the Zócalo in Mexico City before more than 200,000 people, the highest number ever collected by a Mexican artist.
But there were other tragic episodes.
The former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, decorated Chente.
In 1998, her son Vicente was kidnapped for four months, a process that forced the family into exile for some time.
He also faced prostate cancer, which he overcame thanks to the early detection of the problem, and in 2012 they found a tumor in his liver that turned out to be benign.
It was then that he announced his retirement, and began an international tour to say goodbye to his audience.
On his tour, he covered cities in the United States, Mexico and South America the then president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez gave him the Order of the Liberators, one of the main decorations of his country.
In one of his last interviews, Vicente was asked where he would have liked to die.
And he replied in his style: “Wherever God wants to pick me up, nothing else that gives me a chance to repent“
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