John Fernandez’s weekend was filled with back-to- back wins.
First on Saturday evening Fernandez took the Corrido of the Year award at the New Mexico Hispano Music Association awards show at the Ohkay Hotel Casino in Española for his song, “El Ojo de Vidrio.”
Then on Sunday, his beloved Denver Broncos captured the AFC Championship by stomping on the New England Patriots, sending the orange and blue squad led by Peyton Manning to the Super Bowl next month. For Fernandez, it was a weekend of pure happiness, family, suspense and excitement.
But Fernandez, a native of Mora, was not the only area resident to bring home an award.
Robertson High School student Estrella Gutierrez was awarded Youth Song of the Year. Mariachi Paisano del Valle took the top spot as Mariachi Song of the Year for the song “Quedamos Como Amigos,” sung by Benny S. Ortiz and Robertson High School graduate Marissa Baca.
Fernandez, who has been singing nearly his entire life, said he never expected to win the award he took home Saturday.
“I started around the age of 3 around the house,” Fernandez said during an interview Wednesday. “My parents were always singing, so just hearing them I picked up on songs. I just started singing on my own and the first song I learned was “Volver, Volver.”
He soon started to perform around area bars, festivals, Mora fiestas, with other bands, and eventually at political events, even one time singing at an inauguration of a former New Mexico governor.
“I kept singing and learning other songs because my parents used to always sing themselves,” Fernandez said. “I used to sing in the bars around Mora since it was not illegal to have your children in there, and I used to make money.”
As the years passed he still sang his songs, including the traditional song, Entriega, but it wasn’t until his retirement from state government that he had time to record in the studio about a year ago.
“I had extra time and money after my retirement. So Preston Garza, a friend of mine, told me that he had the time in his studio since Lent was around the corner,” a humble Fernandez said. “So, we started recording right after last year’s Hispano Music awards.”
Garza and Fernandez worked throughout last year’s Lenten season recording the CD, “Canciones del Pasado,” which translates to songs of the past. The CD filled with traditional songs was released in April and can be heard on radio stations throughout the area as well as in Colorado.
The traditional corrido, is a story told through song. Fernandez said he was honored and excited to have his song nominated for the award, but he wasn’t the only person in his household to be nominated in the same category. His youngest daughter, Jamie, a Robertson High School student, plays in Mariachi Cardenal. The group was nominated in the same Corrido of the Year category for its rendition of “Bala Perdida.”
The other nominees in this category were: Johnny Sanchez y Puro Norte for “Corrido de Kino,” The Duranimals Band for “Cruz de Madera,” and Mike Sanchez and the Wild Bunch’s “Cuatro Milpas.”
“It was nice to see that people liked my voice and our music,” Fernandez, 43, said. “It was very strange that Mariachi Cardenal and Jamie were nominated for the same category. I was up against my own daughter. It was neat; I am very proud of them. They are an awesome and very talented group.”
Other musicians on Fernandez’s CD include Garza, Bobby Madrid, Juan Macias and Antonio Peña. The CD was recorded in Garza’s Fuerza Studios and finalized by Madrid.
“I am very grateful to these great musicians for helping me get the CD recorded,” Fernandez said. “I am also thankful for everyone that listens to my music.”
Fernandez said he will take a break in recording but plans to record another CD in the future. In the meantime, he plans to watch his beloved Denver Broncos in the upcoming Super Bowl with his family.
Fernandez’s award-winning song is available on CD. It is sold in stores in the area, including Love Music, the Music Album, Sounds Fanatic, and Laguna Vista Gas Station off N.M. 518 near Storrie Lake.