by Kevin Barnett
I hope you don't mind long-winded stories, but I would like to tell you
what I remember. (I don't claim that this is pin-point accurate, just
what I remember).
Bill Dearman, Rena's brother, was/is my BEST friend. When Rena broke up with her long time boyfriend, she was pretty down. She perked up when she and Bill ( maybe others ) talked of her musicial talent. She decided she wanted to develop a musical career. Bill asked me if I would help her.
I had no idea what I could do, but I said "sure". We used to practice at my folks' house ( I still have an old reel to reel of some of our practices ). We both played guitar and sang. I was impressed with her right away.
My mother was a member of the Sweet Adalines, a womens barbershop style singing group, and they put on a fund raising show each year. They invited Rena and me to perform at the show. That is where Abraham saw her. It wasn't long before Abraham contacted her to see if she wanted to join his group. She was interested, but only if I came too. Abraham had us both audition in his garage/studio in Lake Jackson. He was impressed with her, too. Honestly, I don't think I was ever in his plans. But that was OK by me, my interest was in helping Rena.
We worked up a few songs and Abraham set up for us to play at his resturant, Papa-how-ever-you-spell-it. That is where I heard the most wonderful thing!
The first time I heard this little 8 year old girl sing, I WAS FLOORED! Brenda Lee? Who's that?
We all played, just the Q-family played, it was great! Then we packed it up and went to Angelton to a Hispanic club, I think it was named High Voltage. Abraham seemed to know the band that was playing, and asked if we could play a few songs. They agreed. When we left, I could see the wheels in Abrahams' head turning.
The whole family seemed very nice. I really liked the kids. Abie,I guess, was my favorite. Selena and Suzzette too, I just didn't get to know them that well. Suzette was real quiet. I don't even remember hearing her say much at all. Selena was a lot younger than most of us, and pretty much kept to herself. Abie liked cars. I was working in an auto parts store, so we kinda hit it off.
Even though we had a good time, I always sensed the Abraham had a purpose. He never let us forget who ran the show. I don't mean that in a bad way. Without his direction, where would this go? I remember riding in their van and listening to Abraham talk about the music world. It was great. I'll never forget this time of my life.
A young man that had played with Abraham at some point earlier, a lead guitar player named Rodney Pyeatt, joined back in. A short time later, I dropped out. They went to Corpus to record this demo, and I was given a copy after they were pressed.
Several years went by. Bill kept me sort of up on how they were doing. They had hard times for quite a while. A few years after that, I learned that Rodney and Rena ( who were married now ) had dropped out and started a band of thier own, Rumor Hazit, a country/light rock group. I was asked to run the mixing board for them, and did for quite a while.
I have since married, have 3 fantastic young men ( 2 my wife brought , 1 we had together ), have sold all my guitars, etc. etc. We moved to Port Lavaca in 1992, and I was working with a young man named John Perez.
He was a BIG Selena fan. I made mention that I thought I still had the 45 of Selena. He didn't believe me. He said, " You are a red-headed white boy, you never knew her.". So I went searching for the record to prove it. That very next day, John came to me and told me what he had heard on the radio, that Selena had been killed. We were all in shock. I have never been quite the same since. I had not known the family or her but for a short time, but I could picture every moment as if it were yesterday. I found the record, John apologized.
I'll be honest, at this time, we were barely getting by. My first thought was maybe I have a real money maker in my hands. That didn't last long. I tried contacting Abraham to see if he still had a copy, and if not, did he want to use it on the crossover CD. I never got through to him, I got his lawyer instead. I guess the lawyer thought I was up to something, anyway those had to be horrible times for eveyone.
All these years, I knew Selena was gaining in popularity, but I had not listened to any of her music ( I don't speak spanish ). But since her death, I have listened, and I have loved every word, every note. I would get a friend to interpret the title and just guess at the lyrics. That's ok, it doesn't really matter that I understand them, they are magical. They don't need translating. I have watched any TV program I could, even rented some video tapes documenting her life. I AM now a B I G Selena fan, I just wish she could make more.
Anyway, I have spoken to Rena, and she has signed with Q-Productions. She and Rodney split up I guess. She was to play at the premere of the Selena movie in Nashville. I see she is listed on the Q-Productions web page. She said they and some reporters had tried to find me, but never did.
Rena is supposed to be releasing a CD soon, maybe a single also.