By Frankie Firme: Making her world-wide debut here on East L.A. Revue Radio station, Ms. Valentina Estrada performs some all-time favorites in her latest CD "Sincerely (Oldies Relived)"...a fine collection of 10 all-time romantic, cruising favorites, straight out of the Land of 1000 Dances for your listening, dancing, and romancing pleasure. Produced by legendary Tejano singing star Johnny Hernandez and co-arranged by Johnny Hernandez & Mr. Larry Tarin, this fine new CD also features background vocals and harmony by Mr. Hernandez himself. So kick back, take your shoes off, turn up the volume, and let's dance into the good old days for just a little while, when singing was singing was singing...and romance was in the air. Frankie Firme and East L.A. Revue are proud to be the first to put this memorable music in the airwaves around the World! Please enjoy!! Thank you!
By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor, LatinoLA:
Another Breath of Fresh Air in the Land of 1000 Dances
Valentina Estrada's soulful tribute to oldies love songs
Published on LatinoLA: March 27, 2011
As the warm winds of Aztlan blow softly across the land of the Gente Brown, so comes with it the sounds of beautiful music that soothes the soul by artists who have lived life, and share the color of our world through their talents and their contributions to the world of art and song that will live among our people forever.
There's never going to be enough music and art to fill our lifetimes, so the more we encounter and are exposed to, the more our lives are enriched. The times we are living in now have an abundance of music legacy that continue to nurture the soul's need for soothing, and I'm glad to say that the fountain of youth that is Chicano music continues to gush forward.
A couple of months ago, my good friend, renowned Tejano music pioneer, singer, and songwriter Johnny Hernandez of Lil ' Joe & Johnny & The Latinnaires & familia fame, now currently touring with his popular band, Johnny Hernandez y La Gente, called to chat, and tells me that his lady friend, music producer Valentina Estrada, is thinking of trying her hand at singing an oldies ballad, one of my all-time Doo-Wop favorites, "Sincerely," originally done by Harvey Fuqua & the Moonglows in 1955.
"Wow," I said. "I love that song! Nobody does THAT one anymore. I'd like to hear it."
Having met the lovely Lady Estrada a couple of times over the past 4 years when she was helping promote Johnny's successful 2007 Oldies/Smooth Blues CD "This Time...again...", having been invited to a couple of her successful shows in Las Vegas, and being honored to have her as a guest in my home for my Lady's birthday a few years back, I had found her to be quite a charming and fun person, well versed in the music biz
(Her sister is also a music DJ)......and now she was gonna sing? I had to get in on THIS one! "I'll let you know when it's done, Carnal," Johnny tells me.
Now, anybody that knows me knows that my first music love is classic Oldies & Blues music, and I often do DJ dance gigs playing popular songs redone by contemporary artists, especially those of the Brown persuasion, so I began looking forward to another blessing & gift of a CD single I could possibly play on the air on my radio program.
Can you imagine my surprise when Johnny calls last week and says, "Hey Frankie! (laughing) ...guess what? We were in Larry Tarin's studio in San Bernardino ...and the project turned into a whole CD! Puro Oldies, Soul & Doo-Wop. Valentina picked out a whole bunch of her favorite Oldies tunes...the music and time was right...Larry Tarin and I got into a creative arranging mood
...we had some time...and what can I say? WE HAD FUN!!"
Now, you have to consider when somebody like Johnny Hernandez, a singing star in his own right, who has been in the music biz over 40 years, recorded over 60 albums, and has toured the Country with one of the most legendary Tejano music bands ever as one of their lead singers sounds excited and says he had fun...well, made me more curious and anticipatory than a cat on an early Friday evening buzz.
We meet later on that night , and the Brutha hooks me up with a fresh studio copy of not one or two, but TEN classic Oldies tunes beautifully sung by Valentina. We slap that baby in my home stereo...and it was on !
Entitled "Sincerely...Oldies Revisited," produced & co-arranged by Johnny himself, this is another fresh breath of air from the talent treasure that is Aztlan, and Valentina makes her contribution to my (our) music world that will last for many years to come, I'm sure. Thank you, ma Sista !
The title cut "Sincerely," is recorded in a "Dance Hall" echo-style mood, that has a haunting nostalgic touch, that had me singing along by second verse, and thinking about times past.
(Valentina's voice is so sweet, I felt diabetically challenged! LOL!)
Her sensual version of the all-time Chicano cruising-smooching-romantic classic 'Sabor A Mi" brings out that "hey baby...come here.." attitude in me, reminding me of such killer classic L.A. Chicana divas as Ersi Arvisu, Bertha Oropeza, and Lava Gonzalez ...women who could melt your heart into flan when they did this jam...and now Valentina steps in the ring and shows us what she gots...and the girl has LOTS!
Bringing out a heart-rending, first love memory mood in her version of the Ronnette's classic "Be My Baby," you can almost see the lovely Valentina calling out to you and tickling your heart on this one, which also features some fine four part harmony chorus done by Johnny.
She has some fun with a soul struttin' version of Mary Well's Motown classic "My Guy", but she really does some justice to Patty Drew's immortal "Tell Him", that I could hear my Lady singing along to in the next room.( Being my biggest fan, and most ARDENT critic..this was the epitome of approval, in my opinion, LOL!)
There's 5 other jamming classic songs that you're just going to have to hear for yourself when I debut the album on my next "2nd Time Around Show" on EastLArevue when I will be playing the CD in it's entirety....didn't want to spill all the beans in this piece !..catch the show coming soon !
When asked what brought on the idea to do a Oldies CD, Johnny says, "You know...it's just the attitude that good music brings out in a lot of us that makes me happy. Like I said before, we had some fun on this project, and just like performing, touring, and recording, if it ain't fun and not making people happy or
wanting to get up and dance...why do it? Me & Valentina have been good friends for many years (I even married her once, he laughs), and we both collaborated on this project with our mutual love for music, and in a mood to just do something fun. She really put her heart & soul into this project, and surprised a lot of people with her singing talent. I'm very pleased with the end result."
"I love the Oldies, I grew up with them in my everyday life...only they were TOP 40 then," Johnny laughs. "I tried to stay as close to the original music charts as possible, and I'm sure listeners will appreciate that we didn't try to re-invent the wheel. Like building a dream house, we wanted to make sure that the foundation was solid and in place before we added the doors & windows."
Not for the kiddies in no uncertain terms, this album is dedicated to those dedicated classic music lovers who truly love the TALENT of song and music the way it's supposed to be done, without all that phony annoying stage circus, smoke, lights, and side dancers that deflect your attention from the singer & actual song....somebody REALLY sings here...and people WILL notice!
(ALL you good-looking, mature, sexy, successful in life, never-gonna-get-too old-for a good time grandparents KNOW what I'm talking about, right? )
I can't thank my friends Johnny & Valentina enough for the gift of their friendship...and now this addition to my music collection that I am just itching to share with the World !
And with that, LatinoLA welcomes yet another Brown sista to the Land of 1000 dances:...Ms. Valentina Estrada ..... ...You Go Gir !!l
About Frankie Firme ~Contributing Editor :
Frankie Firme is heard daily on World wide Internet radio and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine
Story and photo by Ramón Hernández:
Valentine Sweetheart Gives Oldies New Life
If angel etic voiced Valentinacomes across as a sweetheart, it is probably because she was born on Valentine’s Day.
For years, this famous Las Vegas Latin music acts promoter has made a name for herself booking the nation’s top Hispanic bands. Now the tables have turned for and she is now promoting her first recording.
“Thanks to Johnny Hernández, I finally realized the release of my first compact disc,” the charming, statuesque, blonde said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.
And it has been long overdue when one considers that Valentinagrew up singing with her grandmother, Gerarda Reina León at a church in Fresno, California.
As a teen, shebecame a member of the Teen Challenge Prison Ministry and for years sang at juvenile correctional institutions, major men-and-women’s federal and state prisons in California.
As most girls, she fell in love. She changed her last name from Estrada to Mrs. Díaz and became the mother of four --VenessaPerales, Joshua, Israel and SimónDíaz. However, that union only lasted 13 years.
Meanwhile Valentina also honed her vocal skills by getting up to sing with different bands -- including Rudy Madrid and the Cruisers -- at various night clubs in San José, California.
In 2002, she went to visit her father and brother in Las Vegas; and wound up staying. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today Valentina is entering a new chapter in her life. This time as a recording artist and the title of her CD is “Sincerely” (Oldies ReLived).
“I chose to do oldies because that’s my life and it relives the romance and the memories of back in the day so that they will never go away,” the Fresno-native said.
The production starts with the title song, wheezes through “Gee Whiz” and leads into the mesmerizing “Our Day Will Come” and Armando Manzanero’s “SomosNovios” translated into English.
Even tough, red-bloodied macho men will get goose bumps and feel a chill going up their spine when they hear Valentina’s honey-voiced lush seductive vocals in “Sabor A Mi.” Her sexy voice is enough to melt any man’s heart and defenses, whew.
Then the Stronghold Records artist picks up the tempo with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Kansas City.” By now, actually after the first song, one is left impressed with the excellent, superb backup vocals. So for those wondering, that is Little Joe’s brother and Valentina’s ex-husband, Johnny Hernández, doing all the four and five-part harmonies and taking his voice to new vocal ranges coupled with a few falsetto parts.
Hernández’s astounding vocals, new kick-butt arrangements and sampled horns give this production a brassy kick that coupled with Valentina’s vocals make this CD a winner.
The CD sadly comes to a close with “Be My Baby,” “My Guy” and “Tell Him.” But the good news is that you can play it again, and again, and again.
In closing Hernández, who owns Stronghold Records and produced Valentina, said, “I think we captured the essence of what oldies are about and I’m very proud of this CD.” Both artists also acknowledged and thanked Lawrence Tarin, who co-arranged, engineered and played all the music; saxophonist Steve Vaughn and Vic “Nash” Espinoza, who played guitar on two tracks. Now everyone including Valentina’s mother, Amanda Clara León, is out pushing the compact disc. “Besides being my biggest fan, my mother is a salesman and the best promoter,” the Vegas promoter turned singer said.