Aspiring singer Monica Saldivar, of Grand Prairie, was recently named Tejano music’s next star. Saldivar recently won the fifth edition of the singing competition “Canta Tejano Idol,” which is presented by the Austin Tejano Music Coalition.
Loosely modeled after “American Idol,” the Austin-based nationwide singing contest is hosted by Tejano music veteran Shelly Lares. Saldivar received a $500 cash prize along with the opportunity to record with Tejano music record label Freddie Records in Corpus Christi.
“I see so many opportunities around the corner, and I’m hopeful about the future,” says Saldivar, 21, who is a music business major at Dallas Baptist University and is also minoring in Spanish.
“Canta Tejano Idol” launched five years ago to help infuse new talent into the Tejano music scene, which has struggled over the years to reach the popularity it once enjoyed decades ago. For Saldivar, winning the competition means a chance to keep Tejano music alive among a new generation of listeners.
“I see so much potential from the younger artists who are trying to keep the genre going,” she says. Creating a network of support among the up-and-coming artists, she says, might help Tejano music reach new heights.
Saldivar grew up listening to Tejano music and began singing at charity events and talent shows when she was 13. She auditioned for Canta Tejano Idol two years ago, reached the finale, but earned a runner-up spot. “I was fearful, and had a problem owning the stage,” she admits. But after working on the critiques that the contest’s celebrity judges gave her, she returned to the competition this year with more performance experience and confidence.
“It was a fierce competition,” says Aggie Sanchez, chairwoman for the Canta Tejano Idol contest and Austin Tejano Music Coalition board member. “I believe what gave her the edge was the experience of last time and she didn’t hold back…”
Saldivar hopes to start writing her own music one day and offer audiences original bilingual music. For now, though, she especially loves singing traditional Mexican ranchera songs. “I love the emotion and true feelings of the music,” she says. “It’s the kind of music that brings my family to tears, and it just speaks to me.”