Spotlight on the Brown: TeCheetah Lopez

makes her move to the Land of 1000 Dances

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: September 16, 2011

Spotlight on the Brown: TeCheetah Lopez

Once again, the Goddess of Ritmo smiles down upon us dwellers & dancers de Aztlan and the Land of 1000 Dances, and blesses us with some new and exciting talent and music from one of our own.

After the recent JOE BATAAN concert in Orange County last month, I received phone calls from musician friends Ray Carrion and Ray & Becky Cordova.

They tell me of a popular up-and-coming singer that really impressed them.

"She's gonna be the next SELENA, and she's even got the blessing of the Quintanilla family to continue with some of SELENA's unpublished work that has been on hold since she passed," Ray Carrion tells me.

"Girl got a voice and stage presence to match. I've heard her CD, and it's not bad, Frankie. You should hear it," says Ray Cordova..

Ok...just like my luck, when the great Johnny Hernandez gave me an early heads up on Valentina Estrada, when an established artist tells me about somebody new in their ranks, I feel complimented to have been thus informed.... so I start doing some research, 'cause I HATE to miss out.

I do a web search for Te'Cheetah...y ya! There she is !

Recognized, produced, and promoted by some impressive names in the music biz, I ask Becky Cordova to connect us so I can interview her for LatinoLA, being that she lives in San Diego and I'm about 5 minutes away from Magic Mountain in the San Fernando Valley...about 3 1/2 hour's drive one way in today's traffic...thank goodness for cell phones & free long distance!

A couple days later I get a call from a lady who cheerfully says, "Hi Frankie ! My name is Te'Cheetah Lopez. My friend Becky Cordova asked me to give you a call."

Confident and self-assured, yet easy to talk to, she and I hit it off immediately, and start conversing like we were talking over the backyard fence and having a cold one in the 'hood.

Born Patricia Ann Lopez in Visalia, California, and raised in the small farming community of Farmersville, Califiornia, Te'Cheetah tells me she started singing at the age of 5 and never stopped after that.

One day at school I started singing 'Mary had a little lamb' and was surprised at the positive attention I got. I was put in the school choir after that...and was bit by the show biz bug," she laughs. "But I had my first critic at age 7. I don't remember where we were going, but I was sitting in the back seat of my Tia Olivia's Ford Pinto, happily singing along like most little kids do, when she suddenly turned around and said 'Sing right, or don't sing at all'...and I thought 'Wow!...I'm being taken serious here.'"

Influenced by the legends she heard on the radio while growing up, such as Nancy Wilson, Diana Ross, Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz and Barbara Streisand, Te'Cheetah (which is a family nickname she grew up with) began singing with a local Farmersville group called "Brown Sugar" at the age of 12. "That lasted a little while, but it was fun," she says. "Singing boleros & other Spanish songs for local parties, dances, and events."

At age 18, she started her own group called "Patricia y Los Recuerdos," still singing Spanish boleros. She laughs, "But I always wanted to sing Disco!" She also got married about this time, but kept on singing.

Te'Cheetah says music has always been a part of her life. "Hey, with my Dad being Mexican, and my Mom being being Italian-Caucasian-Hispanic, my family music taste influences ranged from Spanish boleros/rancheras to Motown to Rock to Soul and the TV music shows from American bandstand to Soul Train...I see music as a beautiful art and source of energy that has influenced my whole life."

Te'Cheetah first recorded professionally in 1987 as a back up singer doing studio sessions, and sang under contract with SONY from 2001 to 2005. Her Spanish language recording "Fuego" was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2004.

Still a virtual unknown among "big names," Te'Cheetah says she got a break in 2005 when, during a summer concert in Madero, California, where she performed along with a bill that included Evelyn "Champaign" King and Janice Marie of TASTE OF HONEY, she was asked to sing the National Anthem at the last minute.

"A fortunate aspect of my God-given talent is that I seem to be able to jump in with most bands, in almost any key, so when I was asked to sing the National Anthem in front of the large crowd, I stepped up and gave it my best...the crowd loved it, and afterwards, David Cochran of the COMMODORES came up and gave me his number, saying he wanted to work with me."

"After my CD 'Abrazame' was completed, I met producer Christopher Troy, who invited me to his studio to hear a new Spanish language project he was working on. I soon discovered it was music that he had composed years earlier that was intended for SELENA's English crossover album just before her death, that has been just sitting for years. He thought my voice was perfect for it, and we start recording in October. About a year ago, I met guitarist Ray Carrion of EL CHICANO and we hit it off. We started talking about putting a band together, and he invited me to the Joe Bataan concert at the Galaxy Theater, where I was called up on stage to sing "Sabor A Mi" (available on YouTube). Got some good response, and after that, the ideas starting coming."

So...finishing SELENA's English crossover project...what can we expect? I'm listening to her Spanish language CD "Abrazame" and Ray Cordova was's not bad. Nice voice...but the competition is tough in the Land of 1000 Dances.

...Let's see what she can do in English. I've heard she can rock !

With her recording background in Spanish language Boleros, Sambas, and Latin Jazz, can she compete in L.A.'s demanding Chicano music scene of English language Funk-Disco-Old School-Blues-Rock & Roll and Soul Oldies on the same plate with a live band, instead of studio-produced, computerized synthesized music and snap & clap machines?

...some people say she can! I want to see !...and so do some others I know....

Can she pack a dance floor in the City of Angels, which rivals only New York & Texas for that mature type of "picky", non-commercial/hype, hard-to-impress, English speaking Latino crowd that the Latin Grammys ignore as a "hard market"?

Well...she's coming to San Fernando to perform for the Veterans at the historic San Fernando American Legion Hall along with Ray Carrion's EAST LOS BAND on October 7th...and you're all invited to join us and see !

Tickets on sale now!

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on World wide Internet Radio
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