Tejano Legend Emilio Navaira Dies
The man many called the "pioneer of Tejano music" died on Monday (May 16). Emilio Navaira was a Grammy-winning singer and internationally acclaimed entertainer. The 53-year-old was a legend, known to many as just "Emilio."
Police in New Braunfels, Texas report that family found Navaira unresponsive at his home at about 8:20 on Monday night. The Associated Press reports that emergency crews attended to him, but were unable to resuscitate the "Por siempre unidos" singer. He was later pronounced dead at Resolute Health Hospital, Houston’s KTRK-TV reports. Police say his death appears to have been of natural causes.
NPR calls Navaira the most prominent figure in Tejano music after the death of Selena in 1995. The two shared a stage several times, and Navaira too would enjoy success with English language audiences. His “It’s Not the End of the World” from 1995 charted inside the Top 30 on country radio, and five others followed on the country charts over the next two years, including the oft-covered “Have I Told You Lately.”
While an autopsy will be performed, Univision is calling Navaira’s death a possible heart attack. He helped bring Tejano music — traditional Mexican music mixed with polka and country — into the mainstream in the ‘90s. "He was riding that wave of when Tejano was strong," A.B. Quintanilla, Selena's brother, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. "The ladies loved him, you know what I'm saying, and he packed the houses."
Six years ago, the singer was nearly killed in a bus crash. The 2008 accident caused serious brain injuries, but Navaira recovered and return to the stage, albeit less frequently. It was later determined he had been driving drunk at the time of the crash.
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