Entertainment

21 Facts About “El Rey” Chente Fernandez That Will Make You Love Him Even More

After dead legends like Pedro Infante and José Alfredo Jiménez, Vicente Fernández rules supreme in the ranchera music. He has retired from the stage but will continue working in the music industry. His powerful voice and imposing screen and stage presence have made him an icon of Mexican masculinity and Latino identity not only in his native Mexico but also in the rest of Latin America and Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. In his official website, we can read the following regarding his legacy: “As a pioneer, Vicente Fernández is to Mexican music what Hank Williams is to country music, B.B. King is to blues and Woody Guthrie is to folk.” We couldn’t agree more! He is also an advocate for Latino rights and even breaks bread with political personalities such as former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.

Here are some facts you have to know about this mariachi king, who retired in 2013 but will always live in us through his numerous recordings and the countless memories he left for those who were lucky enough to see him live.

All Hail Chente!

1. He was born in 1940 in Huentitan El Alto, near Guadalajara in Jalisco

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

His father Ramón owned a ranch outside of Guadalajara and young Vicente spent his childhood in a rural environment. He fell in love with nature and with horses, one of this greatest passions. His love for the land is evident in his heartfelt lyrics. In his raspy but educated voice, we can almost taste the tequila, tortillas, and herbs, and feel the harsh Jalisco sun on our face.


2. He is a Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara fan

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

As a good tapatío, Chente roots for Las Chivas Rayadas del Guadalajara, one of the biggest soccer teams in Mexico. The rivalry that this team has with the Aguilas del América is legendary.

3. He just adores horses

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Chente often shares photos of his equine friends on Instagram. He owns all sorts of breeds and chooses them personally.

4. He is a proud great-grandfather

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

In his core, Chente is far from the macho image that he has built throughout his music and film career. He is now a great-grandfather and a proud one. Just look at this candid moment: melts our corazones in the best possible way. He has four children, including the famous Potrillo, Alejandro.

5. He wanted to be like Pedro Infante

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

But of course. When he was just ab 8-year-old he told his mamacita chula that he wanted to be like Infante, to appear and movies and sing mariachi music. He certainly fulfilled his dream. He began playing guitar when he was only eight.

6. He built his early career by winning singing contests

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Young Chente entered music contests in nearby towns…. and the rest is history. Sort of sounds like the plot from our beloved movie Coco, doesn’t it?

7. He has been with the same label throughout his whole career

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

He is a loyal man:  he released his first recording, “Perdóname”, with Discos CBS in 1966. The label is now Sony Music Latin and he keeps working with them. Lealtad ante todo! 

8. His son Alejandro is a music legend in his own right

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Even if his career has not been short of dreadful alcohol-infused scandals, Alejandro, better known as El Potrillo, is a proud carrier of his father’s name and has built an impressive music career of his own, making mariachi music mainstream in the much coveted Mexico City market.

9. He recorded over 50 albums!

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

In his 35-year career, Chente recorded over 50 albums! Talk about being prolific.

10. His father died just as he was going to go on stage

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

The stuff that legends are made of. in 1970 Chente found out his father had passed just before he was about to step on the stage. He sang while holding the tears back. What a legend.

11. In 1990 he released Vicente Fernandez y las clásicas de José Alfredo Jiménez, the best album ever for an afterparty

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Chente offered a tribute to the old master with this amazing album that is just fantastic for a fiesta… picture yourself at 4 a.m. having a last chela and crying to your favorite heartbreaking tunes.

12. He has won 3 Grammys

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez


Not bad for a little boy who once dreamt of becoming a famous mariachi. He has received a total of 13 nominations, which sort of makes him the Meryl Streep of ranchera music.

13. He is a vocal Trump critic

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

In one of his last concerts, Chente said that if he ever met him, he would spit on Trump’s face. He is really vocal about his support for Mexican migrants.

14. His favorite drink is…

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

No, not tequila! Chente loves aguas frescas and his staff is always ready with jamaica, tamarindo or horchata with plenty of ice.

15. He is a Frank Sinatra fan

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Yes, besides loving the Mexican mariachis of the golden age, he is fascinated by Sinatra’s voice range and the way he moved on stage. We can certainly see some if Blue Eyes in the way that Chente connects with the audience. This is what The Houston Chronicle once said about him: “Vicente Fernández is the (Frank) Sinatra of ranchera music. He’s the supreme singer; the man who does things his way.”

16. This is what he looks like without his iconic mustache 

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

We are so used to see him with his bigote ranchero that we couldn’t resist publishing this super rare photo. Kinda looks like El No Hay, doesn’t he?

17. He married the love of his life in 1963

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Maria del Refugio “Cuca” Abarca Villasenor is her name, and they have been together through good times and bad times for many, many years. Chente often posts pictures of the older happy couple on his Insta.

18. He was BFF with Juanga

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Talk about a dream friendship. Chente was heartbroken when Juanga died. He posted this amazing pic one year after the great Juan Gabriel passed away and broke our Latino hearts.

19. Social media is his guilty pleasure

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Despite his advanced age, Don Chente is an avid user of social media. Perhaps he finds in social media the level of connection with his fans that any celebrity must strive for.

20. There are often false rumors about his presumed death… give the man a break!

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

Chente is always quick to come out and dismiss the rumors. If he died, our abuelitas would be in mourning and there would be no question.

21. His dad died the same year that El Potrillo was born: 1970-1971

Credit: Instagram. @_vicentefdez

When life takes, life gives. Chente’s dad died on the same year that one of his sons, the world famous Potrillo was born.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Alejandro Fernandez Opens Up About His At-Times Rocky Relationship With Joan Sebastian

Entertainment

Alejandro Fernandez Opens Up About His At-Times Rocky Relationship With Joan Sebastian

The relationship between Joan Sebastian and Alejandro Fernandez and the Fernandez family goes way back, but is not exempt from problems.

“El Poeta del pueblo,” or “the poet of the pueblo” as Joan Sebastian was dubbed, would have been 69 years old on April 8th, 2020. The Mexican singer-songwriter, who was famous for his heartbreakingly beautiful songs, 42 of which landed him on the Hot Latin Songs Chart, died on July 12, 2015, in his ranch in Juliantla, Mexico after battling bone cancer for 13 years. He was 64 years old.

Sebastian had a troubled life. So troubled that one would say the storyline mirrors what we see in a movie or telenovela. He had eight children with five women, two who died, and this was before he was diagnosed with cancer, a disease he fought ferociously until the end performing up until his last days. 

For his birthday, Mexican star Alejandro Fernandez, who considered Sebastian to be a mentor, released a version of “Esto y más.”

Alejandro Fernandez
@alexoficial / Instagram

Alejandro Fernandez was the opening act for Joan Sebastian 20 years ago. It was the first tour of Fernandez’s career. 

“I grew up listening to Joan’s music. But it was more than that — my dad, Joan and I went on tour in the mid to late 1990’s,” Fernandez told Billboard during an interview.

Alejandro Fernandez
@alexoficial / Instagram

“Ever since that moment, I felt close to Joan. We may have had years between us, but we got along great and we were very good friends.”

The single and the video were released on Wednesday. Fernandez and his label, Universal Music Latin Entertainment, donated all proceeds from the song to the foundation “MusiCares COVID-19” in the US and “MusicaMexico COVID-19” in Mexico, which helps musicians and members of the guild.

When Fernandez traveled for the first time with his father and Sebastian many years ago, Sebastian asked Vicente Fernandez for permission to take his son out one night.

“He promised to take care of me,” Alejandro said laughing. “Many years later, I was on tour with Marco Antonio Solis and Joan and his younger son came to our afterparty following the San Diego show. When Joan had to go, I asked for permission for his bebé to stay.”

In 2015, the year of Sebastian’s death, Vicente Fernandez revealed that they had had strong disagreements.

Vicente Fernandez

These disagreements, although not enough to end their friendship, did cause them to stop recording music together.

According to the “Charro de Huentitán,” Fernandez had hired Sebastian to record a second album following the success of “Para Siempre”, an agreement that ended when Joan presented previously published versions of his songs.

“He would give me the songs and say they were unpublished, as they’d have to be if a producer is making music, and I was hurt because there were about five songs he gave me already produced by his other friends. That’s not okay,” Fernandez explained when asked what caused their friendship to change. 

“Then he would record half the song and after recording the other half with me he would edit them, upload them, and title them ‘Joan Sebastian and Vicente Fernandez Duet.’ I didn’t like that either.”

“It didn’t drive us apart, we just stopped making music together,” Fernandez states. Noticeably distraught, Vicente Fernandez revealed that just before Joan’s death they left their differences aside in an emotional reunion where the late singer apologized for ever having offended Fernandez. In fact, he says, the day of Joan Sebastian’s death, he was waiting for his lifelong friend to join him for dinner.

For more on the Fernandez’s and Joan Sebastian, head over to Latido music.

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