Pura Vida Awards make history

By Chito de la Torre
    Some history making events lead up to the fifth annual Pura Vida Awards Show
(Tuesday, June 4) making it possible for a couple of women to break a long
standing tradition and for everyone to walk among the stars.
    Every year, the Pura Vida Awards induct some of la onda's most influential
people into the hall of fame.  This year one of the inductees is the legendary
Valerio Longoria.   But also being inducted are Laura Canales and Lydia
Mendoza, and that has historical significance.  
    Laura Canales and Lydia Mendoza are the first women to ever be inducted into
the traditionally all male Pura Vida Hall of Fame.  And it's a double whammy
for Lydia Mendoza because she is also one of the first two artists to get a
star during the inauguration of the Pura Vida Paseo de las Estrellas (Walk of
Stars).  The unveiling is scheduled for Monday, June 3, 1996.  
    The Paseo de las Estrellas has been in the works for a little over a year,
and according to Waldo Cedillo, producer of the Pura Vida Awards, they will
quickly add more stars so that soon all nine hall-of-famers have their star. 
Previous hall of fame inductees include The Royal Jesters, Isidro Lopez, Rene
Rene, Little Joe Hernandez and Freddie Martinez.
    Lydia Mendoza will be in San Antonio herself, but it will be Elsa Garcia and
Shelly Lares who get to unveil her star on the Pura Vida Paseo de las
Estrellas in San Antonio's Farmer's Market.  Also present that day will be
comedian Paul Rodriguez and Ram Herrera who together will unveil the second of
two stars.  That one will honor Little Joe Hernandez.  The unveiling is open
to everyone and will take place at 5 p.m. in front of Mi Tierra restaurant.
    On Friday, March 31, another first takes place.  The first annual Pura Vida
Awards Student Workshop is anticipating the participation of some 300 students
who will receive hands on instruction on Tejano music from some of today's top
record producers.
    Even though the Pura Vida Awards show doesn't take place until Tuesday,
things get hopping since Sunday, June 2. That's the day the Pura Vida Fanfair
takes place.    The Pura Vida Fanfair is not only a concert, it's also your
opportunity to rub elbows con las estrellas.  The event will be held at the
Sunken Gardens Theater in Brackenridge Park from 11 am to 7 p.m.  With
autograph sessions, memorabilia booths, and lots of food and drink, it will
make for some exciting fun.  Scheduled to perform are Little Joe y La Familia,
Jay Perez, Shelly Lares, La Sombra, and many others  But best of all, the Pura
Vida Fanfair is absolutely free.
    Now for the really big show.   Scheduled for Tuesday, June 4th at San
Antonio's Majestic Theater, the Pura Vida Awards will feature performances by
22 of Latin music's top performers, and it will award trophies in 19
categories.  Some of the artists that will perform are Shelly Lares (who will
debut her new country song, Mr. Right which features background vocals by
Vince Gil), Emilio, La Tropa F, Mazz, Ram Herrera, La Diferenzia Jay Perez,
Gary Hobbs and many others. 
    The Pura Vida Awards show begins at 6 p.m. but if you can't make it by show
time, here's some really good news.  You can catch all the action on
Pay-per-view that very night.  But if you still can't see the show, you're not
completely out of luck.  The Pura Vida Awards will be televised across the
Univision network in Texas on Saturday, June 22, and then again in September
during PBS's Hispanic Heritage Month.
    For ticket information, call Ticketmaster at 224-9600.

Pura Vida Awards Hall of Fame inductees

This year three artists will be inducted to the Pura Vida Hall of fame, brining the total up to nine. Unlike previous years, this time around two women are being included. The three new inductees are Valerio Longoria, Laura Canales and Lydia Mendoza. Here's a little info on each one of them. Valerio Longoria (February 13, 1924) learned to play guitar even before he picked up the instrument he's most famous for, the accordion. But once he learned how to use the accordion, he squeezed it for all it was worth. Longoria was the first to incorporate an accordion into the bolero. He was the first to sing and play the accordion simultaneously, and also the first to customize his accordion in order to achieve a different sound. His innovations also went beyond the use of the accordion as he was also the first to include a modern drum set in a conjunto. Today Longoria continues to play with his children and he continues to pass along his musical tradition as a teacher. For the last 15 years Longoria has given accordion weekly lessons. Lydia Mendoza (May 31,1916) began her career in the mid 1920s when she responded to an ad in La Prensa de San Antonio. That was her entry in a radio competition that eventually earned her a recording contract. Her first recording was completed in 1928 with her brothers, but it was in 1934 that she began her solo career. Known as "La Cancionera del Pueblo," Mendoza is best remembered for her rendition of "Mal Hombre." Not only is Lydia Mendoza being inducted into the Pura Vida Hall of Fame, she will also be one of the first two to get a star on the Pura Vida Paseo de las Estrellas in front of Mi Tierra Restaurant in San Antonio's Market Square. Little Joe Hernandez is the other pioneer who will be honored with a star this Monday, June 3. Laura Canales, began her career in the early 1970's. She managed to break into a market that had been a traditionally male stronghold, and made it possible for many other females to get their start in the world of Tejano music. Canales made her debut with Los Unicos in 1973. And in 1975, she broke yet another barrier by making onto Billboard's charts. Right around that same time is when Canales earned her title as "La Reyna." Winning just about every award there is to win in Tejano music, Canales continues to make waves in la onda. Her latest recording, "Frente a Frente," is currently charting in the industries most important journal, Radio Y Musica.
--30-- (printed with permission)