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Yvonne and Grupo Fuego: Selena Remembered at MidWest LatinoFest, Aug. 30

By Federico Martínez, Special to La Prensa

Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra has been singing practically since the day she was born—she comes from a musical family, her father being Rubén Ramos of Rubén Ramos y La Familia; her paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were also musicians.

Yvonne has performed onstage thousands of times before thousands of people, including singing the national anthem on numerous occasions at Latino Heritage Day with the Toledo Mud Hens.

Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra

Currently, Yvonne and Grupo Fuego (as she and her husband call their Tejano group) are putting the finishing touches on their first nationally released CD, which will come out this fall.

But what really has Yvonne excited is the upcoming Selena Tribute that she and the band will perform during the 2014 MidWest LatinoFest on August 30, in Toledo’s downtown Promenade Park.

“I’m very nervous about this,” Ramos admits as she arrives to a recent weekend band rehearsal. “Nobody can be Selena or take her place. But I hope to do her justice.”

Yvonne and Grupo Fuego will perform two sets during the festival. The first set, which is tentatively scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., will include music from their upcoming music. The second set, which is expected to begin at about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., will feature the Selena Tribute—it is the 20th year when Selena [Quintanilla Pérez] was tragically gunned down in Corpus Christi, Texas.

To make the tribute complete, Saginaw, Michigan’s own Luis García, will be filling the role of Pete Astudillo, who sang numerous duets with  Selena, including Amame, Quiereme and Siempre Estoy Pensando en Ti. Astudillo, who was a member of Selena y Los Dinos, also co-wrote some of Selena’s Tejano hits. Her brother, Abe Quintanilla Jr., also wrote many.

“We want to take people back to that first time that they saw her concert,” said Yvonne. “For me, it was listening to Selena Live – the first one, with everybody chanting – you could feel that energy.”

Although Selena’s life was cut tragically short, the festival tribute is meant to celebrate Selena’s life, said La Prensa Editor Rico Neller.

The “Queen of Tejano Music” was murdered by the founder of her fan club in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 31, 1995.She would have turned 44 on April 16, 2015 if she had lived, said Neller.

Like many Latinos, Yvonne grew up listening to Selena’s music and being inspired by the way she carried herself.

“Everything she embodied, we’ve tried to embody,” said Yvonne. “She symbolized hope, family, and respect. Nobody had ever gone as far she did [in Tejano music] at that time.”

Many people in the music industry credit Selena for not only the popularity of Tejano music, but for also leading the way for other Spanish-language singers to cross-over into the English-language pop market, as she did after her death in 1995, when Dreaming of You was released.

Her 1990 album, Ven Conmigo, was the first Tejano record to sell more than 500,000 copies, earning the release gold record status.

Selena’s first English-language album, Dreaming of You, was released after her death and debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 sales chart, making her the first Latina to ever accomplish this feat. The album has since sold more than 35 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Yvonne declined to reveal the list of songs that the band will perform, but acknowledged “you have to do Como la Flor,” one of Selena’s most popular hits.

The most important part of the tribute is to make sure everyone enjoys the event, including herself, diva Ramos-Ybarra said.

“Nobody is ever going to sing or duplicate her, so I’ll do just like little girls who grow up playing Barbie’s do; except I get to go play Selena.

 “The important thing is keeping Selena’s memory alive and we’re pulling out all the stops; we’re leaving it all on the stage.”

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/19/14 18:28:32 -0700.




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