Raulito Navaira Finds Unexpected Success
Raulito never rode his brother’s coattails, but for years he faithfully stood in the shadow of Emilio and now the tables have reversed.
Today, Raulito is not only standing on his own as a solo artist, but thanks to faith, prayer and perseverance, he is standing out as a singer, songwriter, product spokesperson and soon-to-be television personality.
However, the Mis Visiones recording artist hasn’t been able to do one interview without questions about his brother and the accident. So rather than rehash what has been previously beat to the ground, Raulito shared his views on why it may have actually been a Blessing and a miracle.
“I think it was a wakeup call,” Raulito said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives. “The accident was bad, but a lot of things in our lives were bad. The families weren’t getting along. Things were very hectic. So much was going on and there just had to be a stop to it, but the Lord brought us down on our knees and everyone came together and there were prayer rituals all over the United States, Mexico and the Latin Hemisphere.”
The accident also reunited the families. Then Raulito fondly recalled the teaching of his father, Emilio Jr., and his mother, María De La Luz.
“My dad was a barber. Mom was a housewife and very religious; and our grandmother was a Guadalupana, so the first thing I remember coming out of their mouth was ‘pray and give thanks.’ That’s been our belief since they instilled that in us as kids.
“I’m going back to when there was no cable, no video games and we entertained ourselves with guitars. But you know what? Even in our hey day as Emilio and Grupo Rio, we always prayed because you have to believe there’s a greater thing than just life,” Raulito continued.
“To us, the world did come to an end at the time of the accident, but by the Grace of God, we’re still here. And as for my brother, I know he’s coming back. That’s been our faith. He just sang with Clay Walker and that was a giant step.
“Myself, I feel truly blessed,” Raulito said as his eyes began to swell up with tears. “I just stare at my kids and I give thanks. I’m very lucky and sometimes I feel scared because I have it so good.”
Raulito and his wife Josie, who celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary on March 4, are also bringing up their children – Rodrigo “Rigo,” Destiny and Lauren Paz – in the Word of the Lord. So it is no small surprise that they were all Blessed with musical talent.
Rigo plays bass, has his own rock band, Speed Limit and has already been the subject of a special feature in Conexión. Lauren Paz, who turned eight on May 13, sings and just placed second in her first talent contest. Eighteen-year-old Destiny, not only sings, but is also a composer and wrote “Mi Vida.” The song, which she dedicated to God and is about the need to have God in our lives, is the second cut in Raulito’s compact disc.
Much is known about Emilio, but few people know of Raulito’s accomplishments and achievements. So here is Raulito’s story:
FROM ROADIE TO BACKUP VOCALIST TO SOLO ARTIST TO TV HOST
First of all few people realized that Raulito is the baby in a family of two brothers and one sister – Yvette Marie.
In 1980, Raulito joined the Terrell Wells Middle School Choir, the same choir of which Emilio and Ramiro “Ram” Herrera were members of five years prior. But what really amazed Raulito is, as he tells it, “when I saw and heard los pachucones malias singing the ‘Ave María.’ I mean, these were the baddest, meanest guys in school and here they were as choirboys.
“The way the choir director recruited them is by approaching them individually and asking them, ‘what kind of music do you like? And ‘Do you want to sing it?’ He made it fun to be in choir because we all initially like rock. But through his influence, he slowly moved us into classical. So Emilio, Ram and I did operas. I did the part of a prince in ‘Boris Gudioff’ and I remember how proud and happy my dad felt hanging around, as he said, ‘more refined people’ because this was a far cry from the José Alfredo Jiménez and Pedro Infante songs we were brought up on.”
Raulito was a cute thirteen year old when he soloed on “Special Lady” at a school assembly and had all the school girls screaming for him. “That’s when I got the performing bug,” he added with a laugh.
In 1984, when Emilio replaced Ram as the lead singer for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, Raulito joined the group as a roadie. Two years later, he worked his way up to sound engineer and he started to sing two or three tunes in duet with his brother. That gig ended on December 31, 1988 and two months later, Grupo Rio was born.
This time Raulito came on board as the sound engineer, but four months later, the band sensed something was missing and that was the fact that nobody knew how to sing backup, so Emilio brought his brother up onstage as backup vocalist and Raulito remained alongside Emilio including their one-year tour with Clay Walker in the country-and-western market until the time of the accident.
The first thing Raulito did was to bounce three responsibilities. The first was to honor all of their artistic commitments.
“After the accident, we did the tour as a family with my kids and Emilio’s kid, but promoters didn’t want that because the kids were too young. So with the help of my cousins, jointly known as Massizo, who backed me up and we were able to honor all our previous commitments,” Raulito explained.
The second responsibility was to drive his mother, back and forth to Houston. “I had 32,000 miles on my car when we made our first trip and by the end of a nine-month period, I had logged up to 160,000,” the Alamo Hats spokesperson continued.
His third responsibility was to take care of his wife and children and this is when Little Joe and his son Ivan came to the rescue by booking Raulito in El Paso followed by a couple of venues in Arizona.
“Little Joe, Los Palominos and several other grupos me hecharon la mando and now the phones are ringing more often, thanks to them. I’m so grateful I can’t thank them enough for restarting my career.
The next turning point came last year when Raulito and Orlando Salazar formed Mis Visiones Records. “The label’s name represents the visions I have of my daughter (Destiny) as a new act, my vision to bring la onda back and the youth back to Tejano music.”
The label’s first release was “Simplemente Raulito — Por Mientras.” In it he pays tribute to his brother in the opening song, “Bajo De Tu Sombra,” as he sings that under his brother’s shadow he learned to live and had a very happy life.
“I was always under his shadow although I casted a bigger one than him,” Raulito quipped.
“Emilio IV and I came up with the idea for ‘Tu Amigo.’ He thought of the concept and I wrote it in Spanish,” Raulito said as he started to offer an explanation for the rest of the album.
“I wrote ‘Chiquita’ for my son because I wanted this album to be my kids, but Rodrigo was ready for it so I recorded it myself.
“When Emilio recorded ‘Contenta Mi Alma’ with David Lee Garza, my father said it came out okay, but it would have been better if it had been done slower,” Raulito continued. “I remember those words from my dad and he wrote the son, so I thought I would honor him by recording it his way.”
“Lo Que Hicimos Juntos” is the most catchy and most commercial tune in this album and with the right promotion, could launch Raulito to international fame as a solo artist.
“For ‘Señorita’ I pictured myself in Poteet, Texas at the Kicker Palace and you want to ask a girl if she wants to dance. She tells him she’s too good for him, but nonetheless, she dances with him”
Of “Regresé,” the 42-year-old vocalist said, “This song is about a boy and girl who grew up as playmates and are now adults. In it, he tells her, ‘I always followed in your footsteps, but you never saw me. Now yesterday’s little child is gone. I’m now a man and I’m back to conquer you.’
“And I did ‘Open Up Your Heart’ because all my heroes have done it and because that was one of the songs we would always sing,” Raulito said as he finished describing all the tunes.
“The album has that old Emilio feel to it because with the exception of one song we did with keyboards, the rest of the album is all the accordion and saxophone. So we went back to basics, with is the old style plus the new emphasis that my nephews put into it.”
The result is that Raulito won “Revelación de Año” as a solo artist at this year’s Premios a La Música Latina.
His increasing popularity lead to being approached by Barcel, the company that makes various flavors of Toreadas chips to host an upcoming television show. The new television program, which will feature Intocable, Marc Anthony, Manu Ginobili and other internationally known Latin celebrities, young achievers plus a music act will tape their first show at the Skydome Club (formerly Planet Hollywood) on July 9 with a tentative airdate of July 11.
“This will be like a cross of ‘Jay Leno’ and ‘Don Francisco’ with plenty of audience interaction,” the singer/songwriter revealed.
Today, Raulito averages two gigs per week, but if he is back in San Antonio by 10 a.m. each Sunday, he, his kids and Emilio’s sons can be seen and heard strumming their guitars and singing their praises to our Lord and Savior during the noon Mass at St. Leonard’s Catholic Church.
In closing, Raulito broke as he said, “It’s been kind of hard to perform and I miss him (Emilio). Meanwhile, I just pretend that he’s by my side, smiling. God willing, I know he’ll be back. We’ll be singing the songs we wrote together and we’ll be making people happy.”
For more information, check out www.myspace.com/raulitonavaira.