Judge John Rich: "About half my friends were Spanish kids - Mexican kids - and their first language was Spanish"The Canadian Press is one of many international sources to report the newly minted Latin/country crossover star that is Julio Iglesias, Jr., who earned that title with his win of the Nashville-based reality show "Gone Country." Airing on CMT, the show featured an American-Idol-style showdown of various non-country artists taking a stab at country music, including Iglesias, Jr. On his way to victory, the Madrid-born, Miami-raised crooner stopped by Manuel's Nashville shop to pick up some bona fide country duds (episode info here).
Judge John Rich of Big & Rich said in his blog that he picked Iglesias because of his "X Factor" with both male and female fans, but also because of the missing Hispanic element in modern country music:
I think, that Julio Iglesias Jr. brings an element to country music that does not exist -- and that being the Spanish-English element. I remember growing up in Texas and hearing Johnny Rodriguez on my radio station, and about half my friends were Spanish kids -- Mexican kids -- and their first language was Spanish. They were all my buddies. I remember Johnny Rodriguez turning them on to country music. They liked it, but it wasn't something they completely related to until they saw Johnny Rodriguez.Big & Rich have included bilingual Spanish/English raps on at least one album before, and Hispanic artists have done fairly well on at least other country music reality show - see John Arthur Martinez' second place finish and Melanie Torres' top-ten spot on Nashville Star. The country music industry has commissioned reports and engaging in soul-searching and head-scratching about what Hispanic interest in country music could mean for the business.
Well, I think, it's been 30 years since that, and I think it's time we pay attention to that audience again. I see Spanish-speaking people coming to Big & Rich shows by the hundreds and thousands, depending on the part of the country that we're in, and right now, there's nobody in our format speaking to that audience.
Julio Iglesias, Jr.'s winning Gone Country video performance, which includes bilingual English/Spanish lyrics, is here.