Vicente Fernandez

North Texans Remember Vicente Fernandez, Local Memorial Service Planned

'He was the hero to everybody,' Fort Worth musician says

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North Texans are celebrating the life and legacy of Mexico’s ‘national treasure’ Vicente Fernandez.

The incomparable musician is gone, but the ‘King of Ranchera Music’ will live on through mariachi students at Fort Worth’s North Side High School like Nestor Aguado.

“It’s a big hit for all of us because he’s like our inspiration,” said Aguado.

The high school’s mariachi program dedicated class-time on Monday to the late, legendary Mexican actor and singer known for his operatic range and rural anthems.

“He really put mariachi music on the map. I think he made it more mainstream,” said Ramon Nino, one of the program’s directors. 

“We lost a great musician, just in general. When you see Tony Bennett tweet out and George Straight, different genres of musicians that know the impact of Vicente Fernandez, not just in the Spanish culture, Mexican culture, but also in the music scenes in general."

From the classroom to radio stations like KNON 89.3 FM, the icon of humble beginnings is being remembered.

“Like James Brown, Aretha Franklin you’re never going to get tired of hearing his songs,” said DJ Albert G. “Whether it was a breakup, or somebody passed away, I could always relate to his songs and by listening to his songs kind of gave me closure.”

In Fort Worth, brothers Carlos and Leo Saenz, who sing in the family group Latin Express, said the Mexican superstar has left a huge impression on their lives.

"On the happiest moments of my life, I remember hearing his music in the background. On the saddest moments of my life, I remember hearing his music in the background," Leo Saenz said.

Fernandez was rivaled in stature only by other greats like Elvis Presley, they said.

"He was the icon of Mexican music," Carlos Saenz said. "He was the hero to everybody."

Some North Texans are seeking ways to honor the iconic singer here at home.

Consuelo Hernandez called the Hughes Family Tribute Center where she held a funeral for her father a month ago with a request.

“She just said, 'This is big. This is important to us. Can I rent your chapel?' And I’m like, 'Of course,'” said owner Stephanie Hughes.

“We needed a place to mourn and to pray because some of us, we cannot just take a plane and go to Mexico right now to be with him,” said Hernandez.

Hughes said she was not initially told who had passed away.

“I Googled it and said, 'Oh my God! It’s Vicente.' So, I said. 'Free,'” said Hughes. “I would love to do this for the community.”

The North Dallas funeral home plans to hold a memorial service Thursday evening for its large Latino community to honor ‘Don Chente.’ 

“We’ll have pictures of [Fernandez]. You can light a candle. We’ll have a priest speak and of course, we’ve got to have his music playing,” she said. “Because I know it is a big deal. I don’t know probably a handful of Mexican funerals that don’t have him singing in them. We’ve downloaded almost all of his albums.”

Songs of love, loss, and a proud people. For many, Vicente Fernandez has been a staple in Hispanic homes for generations and his music will live on for those to come.

“I don’t think anybody will ever fill those shoes,” said Nino with a smile. “Those are huge boots to fill.”

Local Vicente Fernandez Memorial Service Details
Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
Open to the public | Livestream link:
Hughes Family Tribute Center
9700 Webb Chapel Road in Dallas

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