Legendary country crooner Freddy Fender was aiming for a country music hall of fame, now other Texas musicians are arguing for his career


Freddy Fender is at the center of an effort to get more Latin American representation in the Country Music Hall of Fame. The San Benito “Wasted Days, Wasted Nights” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” singer expressed his hopes of being the first Mexican-American to join the big honor, which he called “Hillbilly Heaven,” in 2004 , two years before his death.

Veronique Medrano, a Tejano artist from Brownsville, is leading the charge for fairer representation by the Country Music Association. Medrano started a Change.org petition on June 7, days after what would have been Fender’s 85th birthday. She said it had been in the works since 2017 when she was “shocked” to realize that Fender, who played for 60 years, was going unrecognized.

“You’re starting to notice a very clear conversation about who can be memorialized and who can’t,” Medrano says of the CMA’s lack of representation.

When asked if the AMC was aware of the petition, if Fender was being considered, and/or if there were any efforts underway to improve minority representation in the hall of fame, the press office of the association referred to the page of the electoral process website. The emailed statement was copied and pasted from the page, it appears, and did not directly acknowledge receipt or respond to MySA’s questions.

“Election to the Country Music Hall of Fame is conducted solely by the CMA. New members, elected each year by an anonymous panel of voters chosen by the CMA, are formally inducted at the Medal Ceremony by invitation only which is held at the museum’s CMA Theater,” reads the emailed statement.

Medrano said that now that she has completed her graduate studies, she devotes her extra time to commemorating and preserving the impact of her fellow musicians. She said Freddy Fender, born Baldemar Huerta, is just the beginning.

It points to Johnny Rodriguez, Linda Ronstadt, the Texas Tornadoes, Los Super Seven and Rick Trevino whose work deserves recognition and preservation.

“It’s a conversation, it’s a point to say, ‘How long are we going to let these organizations devalue our impact in the arts,'” she asks. ” Yeah. Enough is enough, they’ve had enough time.

Medrano bursts into tears when mentioning how Fender worked on cancer, which ultimately ended his life at age 69, to defend his work and possibly get an induction.

“It absolutely breaks my heart, it breaks my mind,” she said “To think that this man at the end of his life, all he wanted was that and they still couldn’t get him. give and still haven’t had the respect to give it to him.”

Medrano says she doesn’t want a petition to solve the problem, but hopes it shows that numbers have power.

“It sparks conversation about how many other Latinos and Mexicanos we haven’t recognized and honored in this way and have this conversation about our presence and our impact,” she says.

Medrano hopes other music panels, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Grammy Awards with the Lifetime Achievement Award, will take notice if the CMA doesn’t.

“My God, this man has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s not nobody. He won three Grammys, he was constantly on the Billboard charts,” she says. “There are so many other ways to recognize your impacts and honor your family.”


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