Vicente "Chente" Fernández Gómez
(born February 17, 1940) is a Mexican singer, actor, and film producer.Nicknamed as "El Rey de la cola Ranchera
" (The King of Ranchera Music) throughout the Hispanosphere, Fernández started his career singing for tips on the street, and has since become a cultural icon, recording more than 50 albums and contributing to more than 30 films. He is the father of the popular singer Alejandro Fernández and Vicente Fernandez Jr. And uncle of Jackeline Fernandez ,also known as Jackie Fernandez ,Vicente Fernandez has won seven Latin Grammy Awards and one Grammy awardAlthough less well known to English-speaking audiences, he has consistently filled stadiums and venues throughout his 35-plus years of performing. His repertoire consists of rancheras, and other Mexican classics. He is accompanied live by a mariachi group, but he is not technically a mariachi musician, as he plays no instrument live. He has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
Born in the Guadalajara, Jalisco suburb of Huentitán El Alto, Fernández spent the early years of his life on his father Ramon's ranch on the outskirts of Guadalajara. As a little boy Vicente also worked at a young age for his uncle as a waiter, dish washer, cashier, and finally the manager of his uncle's restaurant. He was known to all the people as "Chente" and the idyllic ranchers lifestyle was instilled in him. His mother often took him to see the films of Pedro Infante. Fernandez told of the significance of these films: "When I was 6 or 7, I would go see Pedro Infante's movies, and I would tell my mother, 'When I grow up, I'll be like him.'" By age eight he had taken up the guitar and was practicing his singing in the style of the rancher a singers he heard on the radio.
Early musical influences
As a boy, he sang at a festival in Arandas, Mexico where he won the contest. Later in his life at the age of twenty-one he competed in a contest where he won thirty-one pesos. But In 1954, Fernandez won an amateur contest sponsored by a Guadalajara television station. It was his first break into performing and he began to play at local clubs and gatherings. Around this time, however, Fernandez's father lost the ranch and the family moved into the city of Tijuana. Fernandez, who had dropped out of school in the fifth grade, began working odd jobs in the city such as janitor, dishwasher, waiter – whatever he could find. All the while, he still held to his musical aspirations. He recently said he was originally from Cocula, Jalisco.In 1960, Fernandez devoted himself to music full-time. He went back to Jalisco, where he performed as a busker while also appearing occasionally on the television show La Calandria musical. After a couple of years Fernandez tried his luck in Mexico City, where he found a job singing in a restaurant called El Amanacer Tapatio. When he wasn't working he was auditioning for recording companies, and constantly being turned down.The time Fernandez spent in Mexico City was discouraging. By 1963 he left to marry a former neighbor, Maria del Refugio "Cuca" Abarca Villasenor. They now have three sons: Vicente, Jr., Gerardo and Alejandro. The oldest, Vicente, Jr., was born three months premature in 1963; Fernandez's mother died within a week of Vicente Fernandez's son was present . .
In 1966, in the spring of that year, Javier Solís, Mexico's most popular traditional singer, died. CBS Mexico, now Sony Discos, offered Fernández a recording contract. He released his first recording, "Perdóname", with the company in 1966; Fernández still records for Sony Discos.Fernández's career took off and has been nonstop ever since. He branched into acting with the film Tacos al Carbón
, released in 1971. His first hit movie, for which he did the soundtrack, was La Ley del Monte
, released in 1974. In the span of 20 years Fernández has acted, sung, and worked behind the scenes on more than 40 films. He stopped acting in 1991, feeling that he was too old to maintain the proper image for his movies.Fernández was involved in a scandal where it was made public that he maintained a ten-year relationship with Patricia Rivera. Fernández met her while filming "El Arracadas" in 1977. Years later, she declared that her son Pablo Rodrigo was a product of their relationship, and Fernández gave him his last name; however, DNA tests have disproved this declaration.Fernández works hard for his audiences and his performances are legendary. His adoring fans consistently pack the house, whatever the venue, from city squares to large arenas in the United States. He promises each audience that he'll sing until they are tired, making his concerts last from two and a half to four hours. Maintaining the ranchera tradition, Fernández always performs wearing the charro, an embroidered suit and sombrero.
To me it's (the charro) Mexico's second flag. When I put it on, I become an ambassador.—Vicente Fernández, as quoted by Matt Weitz, Dallas Morning News
His pride in tradition and dedication to his fans has led to him to perform when many other artists would have canceled. He still reminds his people and fans with his famous phrase
Mientras ustedes aplaudan yo les seguiré cantando. (As long as you keep applauding, I'll keep singing to you.)
His father died in 1970, just as Fernandez was about to go onstage. Overwhelmed by the tragic news but determined not to let the crowd go without a show, Fernandez went onstage and performed. By the end of the night the critics were comparing him to other famous ranchero artists like José Alfredo Jiménez, Jorge Negrete, and Javier Solís. Since that moment his music has expanded very rapidly. In 1998 Fernández continued to tour despite the kidnapping of his oldest son. (He was released four months later when ransom was paid.)Fernández has recorded more than 50 albums in 35 years and claims to have 300 more songs recorded, making another 30 albums possible even if he retires. When he records an album he spends 12–13 hours in the studio recording up to 18 songs. He takes a day off and then returns for another marathon session, recording another 15 or more songs. From those recordings, he and his producer choose 12. Fernández's greatest hit was "Volver, volver,"
released in 1976; his first million-selling album was 1983's 15 Grandes con el número uno
. In 1987 he launched his first tour outside the United States and Mexico when he traveled to Bolivia and Colombia.
Awards and nominations
By the end of the 1980s, Fernández had been famous more than 22 years, yet he had never earned a major award and was beginning to think he would have to die before he was recognized. His patience was rewarded in 1990 when he released the album Vicente Fernandez y las clasicas de José Alfredo Jiménez
, a tribute to Mexico's most famous songwriter José Alfredo Jiménez. The album earned him Billboard and Univision's Latin Music Award for Mexican Regional Male Artist of the Year, which he won 5 times from 1989 to 1993.In 1994, Fernández was nominated for a Best Mexican-American album grammy for his album Lastima Que Seas Ajena
, but he lost the award to Selena for her album Selena Live!
.In 2002, Fernández was recognized by the Latin Recording Academy as Person of the Year. The same year he celebrated his 35th anniversary in the entertainment industry, a career in which he has sold more than 50 million records. He has 51 albums listed on the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) registry for gold, platinum, and multiplatinum selling records. With 35 years of experience under his belt, Fernandez has helped maintain a Mexican tradition that may very well pass away when he does. For someone who was told he'd be better off selling peanuts than singing professionally, Fernández has made a tremendous impact on the music of his homeland. He also has a star placed with his name at the walk of fame in Hollywood, California. Over 5 thousand people attended the ceremony when he got his star, which is a record in itself.Fernández also has an arena in Guadalajara named in his honor. He also has had a star placed with his handprints and name at the Paseo de las Luminarias in Mexico City. In 2010, Fernández was awarded his first Grammy Award for Best Regional Mexican Album for the album Necesito de Tí
.In 2011, production began on The Man Who Shook The Hand of Vicente Fernández
, a narrative feature film that pays homage to Fernández's enduring legacy.On October 22, 2012, a stretch of 26th Street (a street in a Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago called Little Village) was named in his honor.
Lo Nuestro Awards
The Lo Nuestro Awards is an awards show honoring the best of Latin music, presented by television network Univision. Fernández received fourteen awards from thirty three nominations.