Celebrating Latin music and veterans

Michelle Wulfson | The Item

HUNTSVILLE — With strong ties to the military community and a passion to give back, Tejano music artist and Grammy award-winner Fernando “Nando” Dominguez III has partnered with the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum for the area’s first Latin music festival.

“There’s nothing like this anywhere in our area, in order for our Hispanic people here in Huntsville or surrounding areas to get a concert of this caliber, they have to go to Houston, Dallas or San Antonio, there’s nothing here,” said Tara Burnett, the executive director at the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum.

“It’s exciting for us because we can offer something in our community that’s not offered and doing it to benefit the veteran’s museum, we’re so thankful that Nando thought about doing this,” Burnett added.

Dominguez approached Burnett about organizing a fundraising event after filming his music video for his recent single Eres Para Mi at the museum in Sept. 2020. After seeing the abundance of services offered through the non-profit, it was in Dominguez’s heart to find a way to offer his support.

“We do so much outreach and that’s what Nando and I talked about when we first met, with the COVID situation, helping with mental health awareness, disability, groceries, wheel chair ramps, home modifications and all of the other things that we do, that hit his heart more than anything else and he wanted to be a part of helping the veterans in our community,” Burnett said.

Since then, Dominguez and Burnett have partnered together to create The Walker County Fiesta Latin Festival, which will take place at the Walker County Fair Grounds on Nov. 13, with all proceeds benefitting the non-profit.

Dominguez is most famously known for his time spent performing as the lead singer in the Kumbia Kings, during which time he earned a Grammy award and sold close to 10 million records, in addition to touring the world. In recent years, he’s since split from the Kumbia Kings, and pursued his own music by forming Nando Y Solja Kingz, as well as exploring solo opportunities and his own Christian music ministry.

However, it’s hard to believe that with all of his success in the music industry, that his life almost took a very different turn.

“I actually was going to join the military and then music took me out of it completely,” Dominguez said, recalling his step away from his family’s extensive history in the service.

Music has always been in Dominguez’s blood, growing up under the wing of his father, who performed in Tejano band, The Diamonds of Houston. At just 10 years-old, Dominguez was brought into the music industry by his father and spent the following years hitting the road with the band, setting up equipment and eventually performing.

“He taught me the ropes of how to sing harmonies, how to perform, how to mingle with the crowd,” Dominguez remembered.

He had just passed his ASVAB test in high school and was ready to lead a career in the service when he was discovered at 16 years-old while opening up for Inocencia with The Diamonds of Houston. Dominguez was signed to his first label with WEA and years later, he hasn’t looked back since.

Now, as a world-renowned musician and father to a Marine, Dominguez uses his platform to pay his respects to those of service, while bringing communities together and giving back.

Dominguez will perform with his band, Nando Y Solja Kingz, at The Walker County Fiesta Latin Festival, alongside fellow headliners, David Olivarez, Impozzible, Rakka Boy, Jay Olivera, Yarith Marcos and Alize’.

“It will be everything from the old-school Tejano music that your mom and your grandmother grew up listening to, to the reggaeton and Latin hip-hop that the kids are listening to now,” Burnett said. “Nando has gotten together a group that is just out of this world.”

The day will begin with a free car show at the carnival area of the fair grounds from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that will feature low-riders and custom painted vehicles from Houston, along with a selection of vendors selling their wares. A D.J. will be playing music throughout the day and world-class boxer Alfonzo Lopez will be in attendance with his crew, to educate the community about what they do and pose for photos at the car show. Some of the musicians scheduled to perform that evening will also be making sneak peek appearances to get the crowd excited about the concert that night.

Doors to the main building of the fair grounds will open at 4 p.m. for the concert, which will run from 5 to 11 p.m.

Only 1,500 tickets are available for the concert and can be purchased online at www.valortix.com/walker-county-fiesta-latin-festival. Pre-sale tickets are $40 for general admission and $100 for VIP, which includes a meet and greet with the artists, three drink tickets and preferred seating. The museum is also offering the opportunity for the community to sponsor a veteran who might not be able to afford it, with a VIP experience.

Humphrey’s and Rodeo Mexican Bar and Grill will be selling food throughout the event, with adult beverages from Stephenson Distribution.

The concert is a no re-entry event and firearms will not be allowed.

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