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It’s Smooth Sailing for Jonny Martinez

It’s Smooth Sailing for Jonny Martinez

By Ramón Hernández

He was born John Martín Martínez and he could have easily chose Jon Martin as his stage name. Instead, this four-time Grammy Award nominee remained true to his roots settling on Jonny Martínez.JonnyMtz042

     He followed in the footsteps of his father, Tejano Music Hall of Fame inductee, Anselmo “Chemiro” Martínez as a singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer. Then he tacked on to that radio personality, recording engineer, ESL teacher, Chief of Operations (COO) for the yearly Tejano Legends cruises; and facilities manager at Texas State University since 2014.

   Not one to lack inspiration, Jonny wrote and recorded “Jamaican Me Crazy” shortly after last year’s cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“This catchy tune has a Caribbean sound, the reggae and all,” Jonny said an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

“I sing it in Spanish and the bridge is in English. My son, John Michael Martínez, actually did the engineering and played percussion on this recording, which is No. 49 on the NM1 (New Music 1) charts. NM1 is a subsidiary of MTV and this is an impressive showing when you consider that these charts are worldwide.”

Martínez’s first influence was obviously his father and as he says, “I know what I know because of my dad and when you go into an industry, you have to know the basics and he taught me everything. He even introduced me to all the musicians throughout the years. In fact, my dad coached me and took me to my first interview with Johnny Canales. He also took me to the Zúnigas, but I also learned by osmosis.

Growing up, the vocalist known for his enthusiastic attitude and positive outlook said that he followed his father’s philosophy of hanging out with positive people, “if they are successful, you too will be successful.” So while attending Southwest High School and playing football with the Dragons, he hung out with Ty Detmer and also became good friends with his father, Sonny Detmer.

“Ty was the quarterback and I was one of the receivers,” Jonny said. “I got a football scholarship to Missouri Valley College and Ty went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Cleveland Browns.

One year after graduating from Southwest High School in 1987, Jonny started recording for Joey International; and in 1989 was hired as a DJ at KEDA, Radio Jalapeño, followed by KRIO.

“The promoters, the program directors and the old club owners were all gone by the time I went out on my own, so from that point forward, I had to take the reins since the new, young PDs and promoters didn’t know my dad. So I continued the musical education by learning on my own.”

In 2001, Jonny formed AMI Records, his own label, and recently released his seventh compact disc. He has performed his party-hearty songs with boundless enthusiasm in 39 states plus Monterrey, San Luis Potosi and Durango, Mexico.

As for Jonny’s numerous achievements and accomplishments, this writer could rephrase what is on-line at, andínez. Instead he will bring you up-to-date with his latest CD.

It is obvious that the leader of Grupo Bravo looks up to his father and it is because of his admiration for him that he chose to record many of his father’s hits and why he titled his seventh compact disc, “Admirando a Mi Padre.”

‘”Dad, let’s record all your favorite songs and the only one we didn’t record was ‘Nadie Nos Separa.’ But it was hard to do this album because he sang with an orchestra so we had two trumpets and two saxophones while my style is accordion and bajo sexton,” the vocalist who earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix said. “

So it was very difficult for me because of the orchestrated arrangements. Not knowing how to handle a different register and the potential of what the horns do was also very difficult. So I want to give Mario Vigil credit for the entire album because he did the rhythmic arrangements and for his musical contributions since he played guitar, bass, guitar, keyboards and even accordion on this production. And he’s so fast you want to work with him more.

A few months later, they held a CD Release party and after the father-son joined voices to sing every other verse of “Los Laureles” and “Caminos Chuecos,” Martínez says, “Dad was overwhelmed with emotion and so content that he was teary-eyed as he sang the last verse. Then looking at me straight in the eye, he asked, ‘Is this my last performance?’ in a wonderment sort of way.”

No way, since truth be told, Anselmo Martínez will be singing “Caminos Chuecos,” which has incidentally been recorded by 62 groups/bands, plus other hits during the upcoming 2016 Tejano Music Legends Cruise.

Other songs in this CD are “Amorcito Consentido,” one of Anselmo’s favorites and “Un Ratón,” which has a double connotation – just listen to it and figure it out. A hint is that it refers to the part of the body where the sun doesn’t shine. The list continues with “Mi Nombre Completo,” “Hasta Que Llegaste Tu,” an old Aguilares hit, “El Paraiso,” a gospel song Anselmo wrote, but recorded with a La Fiebre feel to it, and the beautiful, haunting “No Olvides Que Te Quiero,” which Anselmo sings in duet with Crystal Caballero.

“Then there’s ‘Anoche’ which dad wrote as a bolero and we did as a ranchera. We did happy-go-lucky lilt ala Jay Pérez with lots of progressive chords and it came out bad ass,” Jonny explained.

“I wrote the lyrics to ‘Te Quiero Dar Mi Amor’ for my fiancé when I was with her. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to be married to her,’ so I say, ‘mi esposa.’ It’s very poetic and my son was going to do a little rap on it, but it didn’t happen. This is the single that I’m promoting right now.

“As for ‘Mi Ranchito,’ it’s about that place that is sacred to one because that’s home and that’s kind of the way that I wanted my dad to be,” said the 46-year-old artist.

Today, he could change that title to “Mi Crusero” since cruise ships is where Jonny and an impressive list of Tejano artists, plus his father have been entertaining Tejano music fans for three years.

It all came about after Jacob Dominguez jumped ship and abandoned the original crew. “Wild Bill” Perkins, who plays trumpet with Rubén Ramos and leads Calle Seis, decided to continue the project, but lacked the necessary financial backing – enter Al Duarte, a prominent label owner, plus a travel agent and they were ready to set sail. Cruise Connection, a company that caters to fans who love to cruise and listen to live Tejano music, was formed with Perkins as CEO, Jonny, COO and Duarte as CFO.

Little Joe boosted their attendance last year and this year, it is virtually sold-out with Grammy Award winner / living legend, Sunny Ozuna, headlining this year’s roster of most-popular stars.

The good news is that there’re still a few vacancy cabins.

Other Tejano artists slated to perform during this cruise are Grammy Award winners, Rubén Ramos, Hugo Guerrero, Ricardo Castillón, Chente Barrera and Jess López; Latin Grammy Award winning Joe Posada, Latin Grammy Award nominee David Marez plus Patsy Torres, Joe Jama, René and Jessy Serrata, Chris Rivera, Nikki López and Crystal Caballero.

And don’t forget that you can get up close and personal with all the stars at the meet-and-greets, the question-and-answer sessions, photo ops, autograph parties, plus after each performance during the Carnival Tejano Legends seven (7) day cruise, hosted by two-time Grammy Award winner, Raulito Navaira.

For more information, go to, call (512) 375-5711 or email