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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Emilio Is a Living Testimony of the Power of Prayer

Story & Photos By: Ramón Hernández

The return of Emilio Navaira less than three years after his almost fatal accident is a miracle.

The minute his fans found out that he and some band members had been hospitalized, they started to pray, form prayer groups and by the next evening thousands conducted candle light vigils in several cities.

Latin Connection correspondent Madeline Lozano, who was part of the thousands of people at Alamodome vividly recalls that evening.

“The whole parking lot was full. There was a small makeshift stage from where Jonny Ramírez emceed and Javier Galván served as lead prayer warrior as David Lee Garza, Ram Herrera, Jay Pérez and other artists gave their heartfelt testimonies as their voices cracked with emotion as they described Emilio as a fighter and asked God to perform a healing.

“Raulito and Emilio’s sons choked up on their words as they spoke, prayed and thanked fans for showing up,” Lozano continued.

“People just kept coming up and not alone, but with their entire families. It felt like when 9-11 occurred and everyone united. It was as though at least they were together if something were to happen.

“There were times when it was quiet and one could feel the coming together, the emotion and the quiet prayers of the people, which seem to be saying, ‘God, we can’t afford to lose another artist.’ Imagine what it would do to Tejano music?”

In addition people prayed at home and at other prayer services; and God heard everyone’s prayers. Realistically, it would take others many more years to reach the point where Emilio is presently at.

The 47-year-old singer initiated his comeback trail by popping up during Clay Walker’s June performance in San Antonio. On Sunday, July 11, after his brother Raulito performed “Bajo De Tu Sombra” (“Under Your Shadow”) – also voted “Song of the Year” – Emilio surprised an unsuspecting Tejano Music Awards audience by joining his little brother onstage for a short rendition of “Cómo Le Hare.”

Three days later, Emilio and two of his sons, Emilio IV and Diego; plus Raulito and his son Rodrigo gave Jonny Ramírez of Tejano 107 the exclusivity of the first radio interview since the accident.

“I miss all you guys and I’m excited,” were Emilio’s opening words. “I’m nervous, like a new kid.”

Ramírez commented on his fantastic progress then, referring to the awards show, added, “Leave it to a Mexican to run onstage.”

“It felt great,” Emilio said of the impromptu appearance. “I get nervous a lot, but I thank God.”

“Are you ready to do a full set? Are you ready to go back on stage,” Ramírez asked in reference to his upcoming gig in Poteet.

“I may be there two to three hours,” Emilio responded. “I just hope to God to do it all.”

Then Emilio revealed what this writer already knew, but was not allowed to release or expose, until now.

“I get lost with the timing, with the songs. I remember the Dave Lee tunes better and it’s going to take time. Sometimes, if I don’t know a song, I have to make up the words.”

Asked how he stayed in shape, Emilio said he was cycling and running three miles a day. Then shifting the conversation to Raulito, he said, “I’m proud of Raulito and I have to get him back with me … we miss each other.”

Then Ramírez talked about the time when he heard the first version of “Bajo De Tu Sombra” and how happy he was that Raulito took his advice and also congratulated him on the tune winning “Song of the Year.”

“Rather than rush it out, I redid the whole thing and the award really goes out to my brother because he inspired me,” Raulito said. “And in regard to my brother being here today, my mom tells me to give thanks to all the prayers because that’s what saved Emilio’s life.”

Last Sunday, Emilio and Raulito did a 40-minute set during the fundraiser for the Óscar Montemayor Family in Poteet, Texas and Emilio never once glanced down at the lyrics that were placed behind the monitor speakers in case he forgot the lyrics to any song.

“Sometimes I have to read the words and I hate doing that. I freak out,” Emilio said.

One must realize that what took 47 years to learn, he’s trying to relearn in three years, but it’s as a KXTN listener e-mailed,” The Lord has already forgiven you for the past and you are a great testimony. Amen.

Raulito fans feel for him because they fear he may be overshadowed by the shift in attention to his older brother. However, they need not worry because Raulito is now a star in his own right. So much so, that he has a long string of sponsors and has landed his own television show on the Fox network, more on that in a future article.

Emilio Is Back!

Emilio Navaira, simply known as Emilio in the country and western market, is back.

The soon-to-be 48-year-old popular musician made his first appearance in front of a Tejano crowd of almost 3,000 during the 30th Tejano Music Awards. His birthday is August 23.

It was hard keeping the surprise under one’s hat, but as they say in the U.S. Navy, “loose lips sink ships.”

Emilio, his wife Maru; his sons Emilio III and Diego plus his little brother Raulito arrived accompanied by Orlando Salazar at approximately 7:15 p.m. However, after taking a quick peek at the backstage area, they went back outside to smoke a last cigarette before entering the non-smoking facility. There, they were joined by yours truly and Ramiro “Ram” Herrera.

That was a reunion of sorts since Emilio replaced Ram when “the most wanted man” quit David Lee Garza y Los Musicales. Nine albums later, Emilio also quit to go solo and enlisted Joe Rios Sr. a.k.a. “The Tom Parker of Tejano Music” to guide him into becoming a household name – that’s where this writer came in since I was the publicist for CJ Talent and helped Rios come up with an image and gimmicks to set each artist apart and stand above the rest. That was back in late 1988.

However, that’s history. Getting back to the present, by the time Emilio came back inside the word was out among the female artists and he was quickly surrounded by Stefani Montiel, Elida Reyna and Shelly Lares for a quick photo opportunity before entering his own dressing room. There Emilio held court with Pete Astudillo, Joe Sánchez of Los Dinos and Chente Barrera.

Out front, Paul Rodríguez was being his normal silly self and the audience was eating it up. Danny Trejo sat in a front row table directly across the aisle from Abraham Quintanilla family and Ram was sitting to his right.

On stage, a musical tribute to Latin Breed took place at the beginning of the show when Adalberto Gallegos, Jay Pérez, Roger Velásquez and Pee Wee sang a melody of Breed tunes. Gibby Escobedo, saxophone; Alex Hernández, alto saxophone; Frank Pérez, trumpet; and Donald Garza, trumpet; all former Breed musicians were part of the Tejano Music Awards Band. Out on the floor, George Cantú, trumpet; Pete Garza, bass; and Catarino Estrada, roadie; also former Breed members sat and watched until they were introduced and stood up to be acknowledged with the sound of thunderous applause.

During the show, the Tejano Music Awards Orchestra also backed up Ram on “Amor Querido.” Ram got the “1980s Awards.” They also backed up Raulito, his son Rodrigo and his daughter Destiny on “Bajo De Tu Sombra.” That was the lead in to the biggest surprise of the evening – Emilio stepped on stage and the crowd went wild. The brothers hugged as though they had not seen each other since the March 23, 2008 accident, then Emilio sang during the bridge of “Cómo Le Hare.” Their energy level was at a peak and it was contagious as the audience stood up to give them a standing ovation as Emilio did his shuffle and Raulito did his pasito.

In what seemed like seconds, it was all over.

“I love them,” Emilio exclaimed of his fans as he walked off into the wings. “It was great.”

“It was something special, something historic,” Raulito said. “I felt as though we were back in 1995.”

If any of our readers missed seeing Emilio, although it’s a bit strenuous, he, Los Musicales de David Lee Garza, Intocable, Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz, Los Desperadoz, La Tropa F and Jaime y Los Chamacos, Los Aguilares, A.C.T.S. Band and Grupo Visión will be performing at the United Music Festival this Sunday, July 18th at the Poteet Festival Grounds. Admission for this star-studded event to benefit the late Margie Montemayor is a mere $10 donation.