Mexico’s “the people’s poet” lost his fight to bone cancer on Monday.
José Manuel Figueroa, better known as Joan Sebastian, a singer-songwriter famed for his horseback performances, died aged 64. He was famed for his “ranchera” songs and close ties to popular Mexican culture.
Ranchera music remains incredibly popular across Latin America. Love, lust and betrayal are the main themes behind many musical hits. Its roots stem from the Mexican revolution up to popular Mariachi bands, with origins in rural ranches and farms across the country.
In fact, the genre is so popular that is has even reached North America, with L.A. boasting its own LGBTQ group, Mariachi Arcoiris headed by Teresita la Campesina.
So why is ranchera music still so popular across the continent?
For some, rancheras remain popular due to the very singers themselves.
“The Mexican Vicente Fernández is the (Frank) Sinatra of ranchera music.” a Houston Chronicle quote boasts on the singer’s official site.
For others, it could be seeing their favorite star in a different setting, not only was Joan Sebastian a rodeo star, but he also featured in Mexican soap opera “Tu y Yo”.
Not forgetting that the genre has evolved, to include “Norteño” music, adding a Tex-Mex spin on traditional classics.
A loss with a modern spin
Joan Sebastian’s death is the loss of a famed and much-loved musician.
Nevertheless, social media tributes and homages to the star are a reminder of how rancheras continue to resonate across Latin America.
Mexico’s Los Tigres del Norte and Pepe Aguilar were amongst the artists who tweeted their respects to the star:
— Los Tigres Del Norte (@tigresdelnorte) July 14, 2015
Gracias por tanta música ! Gracias por tanta entrega ! Gracias por tanto amor ! Hasta pronto amigo querido. Aplausos hasta el cielo ! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 — Pepe Aguilar (@PepeAguilar) July 14, 2015
Twitter tributes even overtook El Chapo related tweets on Monday.