Another Breath of Fresh Air in the Land of 1000 Dances
Valentina Estrada's soulful tribute to oldies love songs
Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
As the warm winds of Aztlan blow softly across the land of the Gente Brown, so comes with it the sounds of beautiful music that soothes the soul by artists who have lived life, and share the color of our world through their talents and their contributions to the world of art and song that will live among our people forever.
Published on LatinoLA: March 27, 2011
There's NEVER going to be enough music and art to fill our lifetimes, so the more we encounter and are exposed to, the more our lives are enriched. The times we are living in now have an abundance of music legacy that continue to nurture the soul's need for soothing, and I'm glad to say that the fountain of youth that is Chicano music continues to gush forward.
A couple of months ago, my good friend, renowned Tejano music pioneer, singer, and songwriter Johnny Hernandez of LIL' JOE & LATINNAIRES & FAMILIA fame, now currently touring with his popular band, JOHNNY HERNANDEZ Y LA GENTE, called to chat, and tells me that his lady friend, music producer VALENTINA ESTRADA, is thinking of trying her hand at singing an oldies ballad, one of my all-time Doo-Wop favorites, "Sincerely," originally done by Harvey Fuqua & the Moonglows in 1955.
"Wow," I said. "I love that song! Nobody does THAT one anymore. I'd like to hear it."
Having met the lovely Lady Estrada a couple of times over the past 4 years when she was helping promote Johnny's successful 2007 Oldies/Smooth Blues CD "This Time...again...", having been invited to a couple of her successful shows in Las Vegas,and being honored to have her as a guest in my home for my Lady's birthday a few years back, I had found her to be quite a charming and fun person, well versed in the music biz
(Her sister is also a music DJ)......and now she was gonna sing?
I had to get in on THIS one!
"I'll let you know when it's done, Carnal," Johnny tells me.
Now, anybody that knows me knows that my first music love is classic Oldies & Blues music, and I often do DJ dance gigs playing popular songs redone by contemporary artists, especially those of the Brown persuasion, so I began looking forward to another blessing & gift of a CD single I could possibly play on the air on my radio program.
Can you imagine my surprise when Johnny calls last week and says, "Hey Frankie! (laughing) ...guess what? We were in Larry Tarin's studio in San Bernardino ...and the project turned into a whole CD! Puro Oldies, Soul & Doo-Wop. Valentina picked out a whole bunch of her favorite Oldies tunes...the music and time was right...Larry Tarin and I got into a creative arranging mood
...we had some time...and what can I say? WE HAD FUN!!"
Now, you have to consider when somebody like Johnny Hernandez, a singing star in his own right, who has been in the music biz over 40 years, recorded over 60 albums, and has toured the Country with one of the most legendary Tejano music bands ever as one of their lead singers sounds excited and says he had fun...well, made me more curious and anticipatory than a cat on an early Friday evening buzz.
We meet later on that night , and the Brutha hooks me up with a fresh studio copy of not one or two, but TEN classic Oldies tunes beautifully sung by Valentina. We slap that baby in my home stereo...and it was on !
Entitled "Sincerely...Oldies Revisited," produced & co-arranged by Johnny himself, this is another fresh breath of air from the talent treasure that is Aztlan, and Valentina makes her contribution to my (our) music world that will last for many years to come, I'm sure. Thank you, ma Sista !
The title cut "Sincerely," is recorded in a "Dance Hall" echo-style mood, that has a haunting nostalgic touch, that had me singing along by second verse, and thinking about times past.
(Valentina's voice is so sweet, I felt diabetically challenged! LOL!)
Her sensual version of the all-time Chicano cruising-smooching-romantic classic 'Sabor A Mi" brings out that "hey baby...come here.." attitude in me, reminding me of such killer classic L.A. Chicana divas as Ersi Arvisu, Bertha Oropeza, and Lava Gonzalez ...women who could melt your heart into flan when they did this jam...and now Valentina steps in the ring and shows us what she gots...and the girl has LOTS!
Bringing out a heart-rending, first love memory mood in her version of the Ronnette's classic "Be My Baby," you can almost see the lovely Valentina calling out to you and tickling your heart on this one, which also features some fine four part harmony chorus done by Johnny.
She has some fun with a soul struttin' version of Mary Well's Motown classic "My Guy", but she really does some justice to Patty Drew's immortal "Tell Him", that I could hear my Lady singing along to in the next room.( Being my biggest fan, and most ARDENT critic..this was the epitome of approval, in my opinion, LOL!)
There's 5 other jamming classic songs that you're just going to have to hear for yourself when I debut the album on my next "2nd Time Around Show" on www.eastLArevue.com when I will be playing the CD in it's entirety....didn't want to spill all the beans in this piece !..catch the show coming soon !
When asked what brought on the idea to do a Oldies CD, Johnny says, "You know...it's just the attitude that good music brings out in a lot of us that makes me happy. Like I said before, we had some fun on this project, and just like performing, touring, and recording, if it ain't fun and not making people happy or wanting to get up and dance...why do it? Me & Valentina have been good friends for many years (I even married her once, he laughs), and we both collaborated on this project with our mutual love for music, and in a mood to just do something fun. She really put her heart & soul into this project, and surprised a lot of people with her singing talent. I'm very pleased with the end result."
"I love the Oldies, I grew up with them in my everyday life...only they were TOP 40 then," Johnny laughs. "I tried to stay as close to the original music charts as possible, and I'm sure listeners will appreciate that we didn't try to re-invent the wheel. Like building a dream house, we wanted to make sure that the foundation was solid and in place before we added the doors & windows."
Not for the kiddies in no uncertain terms, this album is dedicated to those dedicated classic music lovers who truly love the TALENT of song and music the way it's supposed to be done, without all that phony annoying stage circus, smoke, lights, and side dancers that deflect your attention from the singer & actual song....somebody REALLY sings here...and people WILL notice!
(ALL you good-looking, mature, sexy, successful in life, never-gonna-get-too old-for a good time grandparents KNOW what I'm talking about, right? )
I can't thank my friends Johnny & Valentina enough for the gift of their friendship...and now this addition to my music collection that I am just itching to share with the World !
And with that, LatinoLA welcomes yet another Brown sista to the Land of 1000 dances:...Ms VALENTINA ESTRADA.....
...YOU GO, GIRL !!
Note: For more info on Valentina Estrada, go to:
From: Sergio Sanchez:
Kickass article/review Johnny. When can I hear some of those songs? I was just telling my dad about an idea I had to put together some kind of Chicano / Tejano Soul tour or something like that. That's exciting man. I'm looking into those cd's for you and as soon as I hear back I will shoot you an email. Peace.
From: Wayne M. Zamora, Latin Connection Magazine
I read that article on you! Great job! I do have an opening for my next issue in the music section if you're interested. All I need is your bio and some photos. Please make sure to list your website and new projects on your bio. Photographs may need the photographers name for credit.
Please let me know!
From: Johnny Hernandez Owner/STRONGHOLD RECORDS
I would like to express my deep appreciation to Mr. Frankie Firme/LatinoLA for writing such a great article on Valentina Estrada and her new Oldies CD "Sincerely (Oldies Relived)", and to Steven & Janie Chavez of EastLARevue for their continued support to us on this project. I sent the article to my friends and fans and received high praise on the article both on my e-mail and on Facebook. There is no doubt on my mind that Mr. Firme's article and support to Valentina and I will contribute tremendously to the success of the CD, and to our beloved oldies music industry in general.
From: Annie Rodriguez, Manager, The SoSa Sisters
My name is Annie Rodriguez, Valentina's GurlFriend, from San Francisco. I first met Valentina in Fresno, CA., in 1996. Since then, our genuine friendship has been inseparable. I thank you for the most recent article that you wrote about Valentina, who is most worthy of your kind words about her beautiful talent.
Muchisimas Gracias Frankie!
May God bless you and yours.
From: Valentina Estrada
On behalf of Johnny Hernandez, Stronghold Records, Lawrence Tarin and myself we gratefully thank Frankie Firme and LatinoLA for this fabulous & tremendous article! We are honored! I am truly touched deeply...no words can express my appreciation and gratitude!
A special thank you to East LA Revue and Steven & Janie Chavez!!!
God bless you!
From: Venessa Perales
Frankie Firme, thank you so much for this wonderful revue you gave to my mother Valentina. Making a cd has been her lifelong dream of hers and I know your kind words mean so much to her. I'm so happy to see her dreams come true, God knows she deserves it. All her struggles with 4 kids, never stopped her from pursuing greatness and with God's help she overcame many obstacles.She is truly inspirational and she has been the greatest role model that I could ever ask for. My mother is one of the strongest women and I'm proud to have her as my mother. I grew up with her singing to me with such an angelic voice. I hope to one day be as great as her. Thank you again for your kind words and God bless you from Venessa Valentina and my husband DJ Jimmy P.
P.S. Keep those wonderful oldies alive!
Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is heard daily on World wide Internet radio and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine
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