Yes, induct Freddy Fender into the Country Music Hall of Fame

The kid could play, but it was the voice that attracted you, not the guitar.

He could curve it like his throat was a saxophone, a soft warble one note, a deep bellow the next.

Born Baldemar Huerta in San Benito, the boy would change his name to Freddy Fender, after the guitar maker. But the one thing that never changed was the voice that could evoke joy and misery, sometimes in the same song.

Fender, who started playing and singing on the radio at age 10, died of lung cancer in 2006. He was 69.

There’s a push, years after his first hit, to induct him into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

This is a commendable and necessary effort. But the big question is: What took them so long?

Fender is one of the giants of country western music. His songs are so iconic they invite comparisons to the greats – Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn.

He scored 21 country hits between 1975 and 1983, including “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” Like all great country songs, they’re fresh and organic, as if they existed long before the artist put pen to paper.

Fender has won three Grammy Awards and its star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.

He also played with Doug Sahm and Flaco Jiménez, great musicians from San Antonio, in two all-star Tex-Mex combos, the Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven.

All of these accomplishments and accolades scream Hall of Fame, so what’s the deal?

Veronique Medrano, a Tejano artist from Brownsville, has launched a campaign to induct Fender into the Hall of Fame, saying her exclusion could represent bias against Latino artists by the Country Music Association.

“To think that this man at the end of his life all he wanted was this and they still couldn’t give it to him and still didn’t have the respect to give it to him,” Medrano said. .

In an interview with The Washington Post in 1997, Fender said he knew how to deal with bias.

“I smile and feel sorry for them, and I’m like, ‘There’s one more argument for birth control’.”

Two years before his death in 2006, Fender told The Associated Press what it would mean to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“Hopefully,” he said, “I will be the first Mexican American to enter Hillbilly Heaven…”

This dream remains elusive.

Induct the man. He deserves it. And that is long overdue.

About Dale Davis

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