History

‘San Antonio’s First Lady of Song’: Rosita Fernandez

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A pioneer in Tejano music and an ambassador of culture from San Antonio, Rosita Fernandez was, at one time, considered “San Antonio’s First Lady of Song.” Born in 1918, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Rosita’s family moved to Laredo, Texas in 1924 and then to San Antonio in 1927. One in a family of sixteen children, at the age of nine she began performing with her mother’s brothers (her uncles) in the “Trio San Miguel” and played in carpas (known as tent shows) across Central and Southern Texas through the late 1920s and into the 1930s. She became the lead female vocalist for the group, despite her uncles’ talents, an amazing thing for a young woman in the male-dominated Tejano music scene of that era.

‘San Antonio’s First Lady of Song’: Rosita Fernandez

Photo: Pinterest/Gerald D. Lyda

At the age of 14, Fernandez got her big break in the industry in 1932 when she won a local singing contest sponsored by a radio station, which resulted in a performance on the Gebhardt Chili Show – one of the first commercial radio shows in the US. From there, her popularity skyrocketed, and she became known for “Corridos,” traditional ballads of love, the common man/woman’s life, oppression, and socially-relevant themes. Soon came radio commercial jingles, followed by regular performances at “A Night In Old San Antonio” at San Antonio’s Fiesta week, as well as “Fiesta Noche Del Rio” at the Arneson River Theater. In 1938, she married Raúl A. Almaguer and continued to perform under her maiden name – something that was unique in itself for a woman in that day and age. She had the full support of her husband and children (of which they had two) and went on to successfully represent her culture and her genre on broader stages.

‘San Antonio’s First Lady of Song’: Rosita Fernandez
Photo: Facebook/Kenneth L. Moore

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