Linda Escobar Sheds her Shirley Temple Image
For years, Linda Escobar had been unable to shake off “The Little Princess” image.
“That’s because I began my musical career singing “Frijolitos Pintos,” at the tender age of seven,” the statuesque songbird said during an interview that began at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives and ended at Gilbert’s Restaurant where she was accompanied by Lydia Herrera, who with her husband Henry, owned Benny’s BarBQ in Corpus Christi.
After the 1960 Cometa Records hit, six more tunes, including “Colorcito de Sandia” were included in her father, Eligio Escobar’s Bernal BELP 2006 long-play album. It about during this period Beatriz Llamas would babysit Escobar when her father was onstage. Then, in what seemed to be the blink of an eye, El Gordo Delgado had the then 11-year-old Alice, Texas native booked at the Hollywood Palladium and on tour with José Alfredo Jiménez, Lucha Villa, Resortes and The Dinos, than featuring Bobby Lira and Serafino Perales.
Years passed and at the end of the last century she fell in love with Kenji “El Gato” Katsube.
“We’re like rice and beans,” the Escobar Records recording artist said during that period. “He’s the rice and I’m the beans” referring to the Japanese being known for eating rice and Mexicans for eating beans. “And our children will probably be frijolitos pintos.
Her father had prophesized this during her youth and she even wound up going to the Land of the Rising Sun, where they performed at Al Sur De La Frontera in Osaka, Japan. During that winter trip, Katsube took her to a hot springs and as she remembers, “I had a hard time finding a bathing suit because their women are so tiny.”
They wrote their own wedding rites, Tony De La Rosa had agreed to perform at their wedding and all the padrinos were already chosen when Katsube was diagnosed with cancer and he succumbed to the fatal disease on May 16, 2003. The next year, she wrote and released “Llorando En Silencio,” which features an enigmatic piece of artwork for the cover. She followed that up with four more productions on her own label.
Today, after suffering great tragedy, her life-long fans look at the grandmother of four and still see the stereotype of that little girl they saw grow before their very eyes.
“I was always very conservative,” the 5-feet-8-inch tall songstress said. “I wouldn’t do anything out of the norm, but that was the rancherona in me. Besides, I am truly shy when it comes to dressing in a revealing way.
“It was Chente Barrera who wanted for the other side of me to come out. He wanted me to come out of the cage, be more assertive, stand my ground, not take any crap from anyone and to show what I’ve got because, as Shirley Temple, I was a child star and everyone stayed with that image.
“I never had a chance to come out,” Escobar added.
That was the basis and concept for “Leona Enjablada” (“The Caged Lioness”) to free that pent up spirit. As we listened to each song, La Diva de la Canción offered a brief synopsis of each tune.
In the Barrera penned “Quedate Tranquilo,” she is telling her former beau, “Don’t worry because I’m out of your life.”
“I did ‘La Monja’ because I like to include a corridor in every CD and it’s my favorite Mingo Saldivar song,” Escobar explained.
She recorded Chelo Sílva’s torchy “¿Sabes De Qué Tengo Ganas?” with the same original arrangement in what probably is the best tune in this album.
After seducing her listeners with the aforementioned sensuous number, she turns around and throws darts at all men with “Hombres Malvados,” a tune made famous by Paquita la del Barrio.
Then there’s “Colorcito de Sandia,” which is a flashback to the past – 41 years to be exact. She recorded the Christian-oriented “Tango Lento” to remind fans of God. And the closing tune, “Stonewall Jackson Blues,” by Rosa Canales Pérez, is a rocking bilingual tune that should garner some airplay on English-language radio stations.
Needless to say, the very youthful-looking, shapely warbler was a big hit at this year’s Tejano Music Festival during which she brought Kenji’s squeezebox and bajo sexto player, Noriyoshi “Honorio” Imamura, a former member of Kasube’s group and now leader of Conjunto J, did Escobar the honor of playing Kenji’s accordion and singing a couple of duets with the diva.
For more information on the 2003 Tejano Roots Hall of Fame inductee, go to www.myspace.com/lindaescobarysuconjunto.