It’s a good thing that Vicente Fernandez didn’t listen when told he’d be better off selling peanuts than singing professionally. Fernandez, who knew at an early age that he wanted to be a singer, dismissed all the nay-sayers, disappointment and rejection and went on to become a star of film and music, a cultural icon, and “King of Ranchera,” a traditional style of Mexican music that draws heavily from folklore, history and country life.

Born in 1940, Fernandez is a bit of a musical anomaly in the western world. He has appeared in over 30 films, recorded over 50 albums and sold over 50 million albums. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he’s been filling stadiums for 40 years yet he remains largely unknown outside of Spanish-speaking communities.

As a young boy, Fernandez dreamed of being a singer. At the age of eight, he picked up the guitar and started imitating the ranchera style that he heard on the radio. By the time he was 20, Fernandez had been playing locally for years, had won a handful of contests and decided to focus on music as a career. His first big break came when the death of Javier Solis, one of Mexico’s most popular singers, left a musical void that the record companies were eager to fill. Fernandez stepped in and the rest is ranchera history; he has since gone on to become one of the most prolific and well-know Mexican singers of all time.

Taking great pride in keeping the ranchera tradition alive, and performing with a deep appreciation for his loyal and beloved fans, Fernandez has developed a reputation for playing marathon concerts that sometimes last up to four hours. Fernandez is fond of saying, “As long as you keep applauding, I’ll keep singing.”

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