Bazarte graduated in journalism from San Diego State University and associate editor of Mundo Azteca. She lives in the college district.
We have lost a legend, the king of musica ranchera, an inspiration, a Mexican legend, Vicente Fernández. Better known as Don Chente, he was important to the Mexican community. Vicente was the last to represent the Mexican Western style. With his cowboy boots, Mexican hat, charro, horse and microphone, Fernández has become an icon for me and my family.
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As the proud daughter of two immigrants who came to the United States to pursue the American dream, it was difficult for them to keep their Mexican culture alive. Vicente, who has always had a passion for expressing his Mexican roots, motivated my parents not to be afraid of expression. Eventually, this motivation would be passed on to my siblings and to myself.
I admire the Fernández family’s passion for music. The unity of his family was seen throughout their performances and that is why he is important to my family.
December 12 is originally the day when Mexican Catholics celebrate the birthday of the Virgin Mary. This time the celebration was different, turning it into a sad day for many who learned that Don Chente passed away that very morning. It was a dark day that all who loved her will remember forever. Word of his death spread quickly, and like many people, I was in denial. I couldn’t believe he was gone. The last of the Mexican legends. I said to myself “not the legend of Mexico, not our charro”.
My social networks were inundated with photos of Vincente and as I looked at all of them. So many happy moments that I shared with my family came to my memory because his music was part of it.
When I was only 6, my dad first played a video where Don Chente was performing at a concert on his horse. He caught my eye and I thought, “This man reminds me of my grandfather.” My grandfather rode horses too, except my grandfather was not the type to sing.
Of course, I didn’t know Vicente personally, but the lyrics to his music, the sound of his voice, his overall work and the passion he had for our culture definitely made him a role model for me.
Growing up in a Mexican family, the music of Vicente Fernández was often performed. From the time we cleaned the house every Saturday morning to family car rides to family celebrations, his music was blasting through the speakers. Our family reuniting would always involve singing his songs, especially popular songs like “Volver Volver”, “Hermoso Cariño”, “A Million de Primaveras”, “Estos Celos”, “Mujeres Divinas” and many others. While singing to his music and without worrying about damaging our vocal cords or how horribly we sounded, Vicente’s music had to express itself. His songs motivate everyone. For us fans he was “El Rey”.
Many fans also drink shots of tequila while listening to Vicente’s ranchera music. Some of his lyrics bring out emotions of love and sadness. This is exactly what my family and I would do.
When one of Vincente’s popular songs, “Para Siempre”, was introduced as the main song of the Mexican soap opera “Fuego en la sangre”, my sister and I were just awake and listening to it. I fell in love with her voice when I was only 12 years old. This song is still my favorite.
Some people may not know that Vincente Fernández was also an actor. My father introduced me to Vincent’s first film – “El Tahúr”. It came out in 1979 and was one of the first movies I ever watched with Vicente in the lead role.
Last year I had the opportunity to visit Los Tres Potrillos, his ranch in Guadalajara, Mexico. The rumor was that Vincent was there. As the crowd grew, I stood on tiptoe hoping to glance at him. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to see it.
I imagined seeing him and thanking him for always representing Mexican culture. His songs continue to inspire generations and the unity he has brought to families around the world is admirable, mine included. I would have thanked him for being an inspiration to my parents arriving in a different country and helping them express their love for their culture.
Vincent Fernández will be missed and his legacy will live on forever. We will cherish his music, his performances and the motivation he always had while playing. What he represents to me and my family is unity, inspiration and expression. Rest in paradise, Vicente Fernández.