REVIEW: Diego does Dad, Tejano fans proud

Diego Navaira sings with soul, intensity and undeniable talent; and with a style all his own. His powerful voice impressed at last night’s “A Tribute to Emilio Navaira,” whether backed by the San Antonio Symphony’s strings, brass, or his Dad’s former band from his heyday in the 1990s.

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The young performer faced the monumental task of singing the hits of his legendary and beloved father, Emilio Navaira, in front of not only his hometown of San Antonio, but immediate and extended family and friends. And Diego did it, with his unique vocal talent and musicality. Yes, at many times, there was a chilling resemblance in sound to his late father, the King of Tejano, but Diego showed off his own singing skill and stage presence. It’s obvious that both Diego and his brother, Emilio IV, have talent and inherited their father’s love of music. More than sounding like a young Emilio with a deeper, richer range, the concert showed off Diego’s vocal power that held out notes to their satisfying end.

The brothers, while younger and shier as far as their audience interaction, still showed off their playful personalities and closeness as brothers and performers. They joked around onstage and at one point, Emilio IV pointed out that Diego got the playlist mixed up, which made Diego say, “I’m afraid to say what song is next.” But Emilio IV encouraged him, saying: “You’ve got this, brother.”

“You’ve got this, brother.”

Emilio IV encouraging his brother at last night’s SA Symphony tribute at the Tobin Center

Among the touching moments included when Diego grabbed an Emilio baseball cap from the audience and wore it during a potion of the song, “Naciste Para Mi.” Also, when he announced before he sang, “Hoy Me Siento Feliz,” that his father had never performed the song live.

The symphony’s string section of violins, violas, cellos and bass, added another dimension to many songs, notably on the introduction and backing of “Lo Dice Tu Mirada” and “Lucero de mi Alma.” Conductor Troy Peters, who arranged all the pieces from the program, said the song, “Juntos,” was the song that “blew his mind” and piqued his interest in Emilio Navaira and Tejano music.

The program’s finale brought out Emilio’s younger brother, Raulito Navaira, who sang “Como Le Hare,” one of Emilio’s first hits, then joined with Diego in “Remedio de Amor.” The crowd, whose applause supported and praised Diego throughout the evening, erupted when Raulito appeared onstage, dancing the infectious “Shuffle,” and letting the crowd sing along to the chorus, “Como Le Hare.”

If you missed the concert, keep an eye out for Diego Navaira and his band, The Last Bandoleros.

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