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Grupo Fuego releases debut CD at El Camino Real, January 25th

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


Jan. 20, 2015: Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra and Grupo Fuego are all over Latin radio these days with the recent release of the band’s new CD “Nosotros.” The band spent nearly 15 months selecting songs and recording multiple musical arrangements to come up with a mix of Tejano music for their fans.

“It’s kind of hard to believe we're not going to the studio late at night and using every available second we have,” she said with a laugh. “It's a bit surreal to finally put the CD out and have everybody listen to all the songs that we put so much work into. It's surreal.”


Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra

Ms. Ramos-Ybarra spent Saturday afternoon on the “Louie G Show” promoting the new CD on MidwestTejanoRadio.com. Host Louie García said the CD “blew my mind” and, in a rare move, played the entire CD lineup in between conversation with Grupo Fuego's lead singer.


“I feel like I'm listening to the songs again for the first time. I just can't believe the whole project is done. It's crazy,” said the Grupo Fuego lead singer. “It was an extensive process picking out the songs based on how we wanted to represent ourselves on our first CD.”


The band gave a lot of credit to record producer Rolando Revilla for arranging a lot of the music on the CD, as well as pushing the individual musicians to record a signature sound. He has worked with other Midwest Tejano acts, including Tejano Sound Band, based in Lansing, Michigan.


“He did push my limits. I got in front of that mic and I thought I was actually going to start crying. When you've been in the studio and take after take after take, it's not right, it's not right—that's what it was like,” she recalled. “It's his name on the line. If you're going to walk through his doors, you better be prepared for truth and criticism. But it's constructive criticism because he cares about the product that's being put out as well.”


In particular, Revilla arranged the song “Mi Todo” (“My All”), which has been previously recorded by Mariah Carey in Spanish and numerous Latin acts.


“The first track is one I hold near and dear to my heart. When I first heard the arrangement, I said ‘I don't know if I can do that,’” said Ms. Ramos-Ybarra. “He said 'you can do it.' He had me just go into the studio and do it. Believe me when I say I gave 'mi todo' when I sang this song.”


Fans have taken to Facebook and other social media to compliment Yvonne y Grupo Fuego on their new CD. Distribution is slowly trickling out among family and friends right now, but the band is planning an event where the CD will be sold locally. There is also a band site being set up on iTunes where fans across the country can download the CD. For those who want a hard copy in their hands, fans can email [email protected] with their contact information.


“I just wanted to let you know that I cannot get enough of your album. I love, love, love it,” wrote Sandra Villarreal via a Facebook post. “I listen to it in the car and at work all day. I'm sure the ladies here think I'm crazy. I'm so proud of you and I'm glad I've received the opportunity in being the second person to receive a copy. Congratulations to you.”


The eleven-track CD include a remix of a Selena classic on which Ms. Ramos-Ybarra recorded all of her own harmonies, a Spanish-language version of  the hit Janet Jackson song “Let’s Wait a While” (“Quiero Esperar”), and a Tejano-infused version of an R-and-B song (“Here and Now”) that Ms. Ramos-Ybarra first recorded several years ago. The band at first anticipated the CD would only take six months to complete and put on the market.


“As we listened to each song, we wanted it to sound like a cohesive project. That was important to us,” explained Grupo Fuego’s diva. “We wanted someone to be able to put the CD in and listen to it from beginning to end. Isn't that what we all want from a CD, instead of 'Oh, I don't like that song, let's just skip that song.' I'm glad we held out and took extra time.”


As a result of the new CD, Yvonne y Grupo Fuego has been selected to perform at this year's Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair, March 12-15, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.  Ms. Ramos-Ybarra revealed she has never been to Texas, even though her singing career has involved a lot of traveling and has “tons of family” there.


“It's exciting. It's really exciting. It's an honor, a huge honor,” she said. “When we go to Texas to represent the Midwest, we're not going to do it and take it lightly. We're going to go with our game-faces on and we're going to bring the best dance show we could ever bring.”


The seven-member band mainly hails from Michigan and Ohio. They've been together for four years now. Yvonne's husband Michael Ybarra serves as musical director and plays keyboards, while his son Mikey Ybarra plays drums—they are originally from Pontiac MI. Bennie Esquivel of Archbold, Ohio plays bass guitar and Lito Vásquez of Toledo plays guitar. Percussion player JoJo Jiménez hails from Saginaw, Michigan, while accordion player Matt Ponce is from Bay City, Michigan. When Yvonne and Fuego headlined the 2014 MidWest LatinoFest last August, Grupo Fuego included  Saginaw’s special guest Louie García, who sang duets with diva Yvonne.  


“We're a tight-knit family although we come from across the region,” said Ms. Ramos-Ybarra.


Oak Harbor-based photographer Kelly Rivera took the CD’s cover pictures of Ms. Ramos-Ybarra as well as the band’s posters.  


There will be a special CD-release party at El Camino Real restaurant [Douglas and Sylvania streets] this Sunday, January 25, 2015, from 3 until 8 p.m.




Copyright © 1989 to 2015 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/20/15 20:03:40 -0800.




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