The prolific Pedro Fernández is a charting, multiple Latin Grammy-winning ranchera and mariachi singer, actor, songwriter, and television host. While he began his career as a pre-teen prodigy, he has become a pop culture superstar who remains one of Mexico's most enduring cultural treasures. His sweet, emotive high baritone voice has become a national trademark. He has released more than three dozen albums—including the Grammy-winning Yo No Fuí — starred in seven telenovelas and more than 25 films.
Fernández, born José Martín Cuevas Cobos in Jalisco, Guadalajara in 1969, spent his childhood in west-central Mexico, listening to a ranchera-exclusive radio station. Ranchera music is a rural folk form often likened to American country music. He was a restless child who directed part of his energy, from as early as age three, to interpreting some of the ranchera and mariachi songs he heard on the radio.
Fernández adopted a stage name that reflected his love affair with ranchera music and two of its icons: Pedro Infante and Vicente Fernández. Moved by the young boy's rendition of the song "Las Carreras de Caballos," Vicente Fernández (who heard him sing on radio) helped him get his first recording contract, introducing him to the nurturing producer Rúben Galindo. At age seven, Fernández rose to national fame for his work in the theme song for the film La Niña de La Mochila Azul (The Girl with the Blue Knapsack), in which he also played a starring role. His instant success won him additional recording and film contracts and consolidated his image as a child prodigy. From 1979 to 1986, he recorded as Pedrito Fernández. Joined by another child star, María Rebeca, Fernández, he went on to co-star in the films El Oreja Rajada, La Mugrosita, and La Niña de la Mochila Azul II.
In 1987, he changed his name to Pedro Fernández, and as he matured, his repertoire shifted toward romanticas (love songs) and in response, his audience grew to include fans from Latin America and the United States. For a time, he moved away from his musical roots, to record pop hits including the singles "El Perdedor," "Maniquí," and "Coqueta." With his acting in full effect, his recordings served to expand his popularity. During the '80s and '90s, his films, television appearances, and chart-topping recordings were ubiquitous in Mexico. His 1993 album, Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero, sold more than 300,000 copies while 1996's Mi Forma de Sentir sold more than a half a million. In 1997 his Un Mundo Raro: Tributo José Alfredo Jiménez, sold nearly half a million. His 2001 cover of Pedro Infante's "Yo No Fuí" sold almost a million copies worldwide, leading to his performance at the Viña del Mar music festival in Chile, where he appeared on-stage along with ten Chilean dancers and 25 mariachis. The album Yo No Fuí won a Latin Grammy award for Best Ranchero Album in 2001. His 2002 album, Corazón, was nominated for Best Ranchero Album but he lost out to his childhood idol, Vicente Fernández. (He didn't mind a bit.) As a result of the recording's strong sales on both sides of the border, Fernández appeared in a McDonald's commercial that aired in the American southwest. 2009's Amarte a la Antigua received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Ranchero Album. Its title track was chosen as the closing theme of the award-winning telenovela Hasta Que el Dinero Nos Separe in which he also appeared; it won Fernández the TV y Novelas Award for Best Actor. 2012's No Que No... was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album. He also performed the title song at the 13th Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony. 2014's Hasta el Fin del Mundo utilized not only mariachi and ranchera but also banda wed to pop rhythms. Its title track was used as the name theme for the telenovela — which he had previously starred in. Acaríciame el Corazón issued in 2015 and offered a host of previously recorded songs with new arrangements. A companion offering to Hasta el Fin del Mundo, it delivered mariachis, bandas, romanticas, and rancheras co-produced with Jorge Avendaño. It featured four songs with two versions each, and included five videos. It won the Latin Grammy for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album. After tours across Central and South America and the United States, Fernández took an extended break from all but television work, where he joined the cast of La Voz Kids as a coach along with newcomer Daddy Yankee and returning member Natalia Jimenez. In the summer of 2018, Fernández issued the pre-release single "Arranquense Muchachos." ~ Thom Jurek