By: Fredwill Hernandez
A three-year labor of love resulted in a “classic” self-titled [debut] album [in my opinion] by Tejano singer/songwriter Monica Saldivar, who hails from Grand Prairie, Texas.
There’s a saying in music that “the cream rises to the top,” and no one exemplifies that in Texas, or in Tejano music [at this moment] or for some time that is — more than Saldivar, who is currently promoting “Me Cuenta Tanto Olvidarte,” a song penned by Claudia Brant [for and with Enrique Iglesias] originally released on Iglesias’  album titled Sex and Love.
“We reached out to Claudia Brant and explained what we wanted to do with the song, and she was totally with it, giving us her blessing,” explained Saldivar, who started honing her vocal skills in the ninth grade as she attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Dallas, Texas. “That’s the only cover song on the album, all other songs [some written exclusively for me] by great songwriters by the likes of Juan Treviño, Beto Ramón, Eduardo “Yayo” Anguiano, Ernesto Rodriguez II, and Jesse Villarreal that were never released before. When it came to the album, it was crunch time so we only recorded the ten songs since we wanted to rush and release it before some of the awards and deadlines for [certain] nominations.”
Many factors were key and instrumental in Saldivar’s progress as a vocalists and performer. Among them was her persistence, work ethic, practice, and above all — the one-hundred and ten percent “blessings from her love ones and family.”
“I’ve had the amazing privilege of having my family as my support system: my dad is my manager, my brother is my marketing department, and my mom is my support system. So — for the people that don’t have that support system, [I would just say] when it comes to performing — stay close to the people that are going to mentor you the best. I’ve been able to look up to people [vocalist and performers] like Shelly Lares, Stafanie Montiel, I’ve had the privilege of meeting Elida Reyna [y Avante], people I looked up to as a kid, they’ve given me the best advice. Sticking to your gut [feeling], sticking to what you know is important to you – because as a woman, as a Hispanic woman in an industry that is male dominating, it can be very tuff. I also want to say to the younger generation boys and girls, educate yourself – educate yourself on contracts, the music industry and what people are expecting of you. The royalties, the [music/songwriting] publishing, you have to be smart about those things because you don’t want to be taken advantage of,” eloquently explained Saldivar, who had won the nationwide Austin-based singing competition Tejano Idol in 2015.
As Saldivar’s confidence, vocal ability, and stage presence started to be felt, hundreds of people started to take notice — even some of Tejano music’s “most prolific” [Latin Grammy and Grammy Award winning] songwriters and producers.
“I was performing in Buda, TX., for their annual Fajita Fiesta and Cook Off and someone from Tejano Gold radio posted a video of me singing Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” As I’m singing the climactic part of the song, a train passes through and it’s super loud but I was still loud enough to be heard. It just so happened that Mario Ortiz who is a multi-Grammy winning producer and is musical director for Jay Perez’s band seen the video and he was impressed. He [eventually] found me on Facebook and message me through Jay Perez and the Band’s Facebook fan page telling me that he had seen the video and was super impressed with the fact that I was not only loud enough to still be heard, but because I was still able to stay on key considering the fact the train was so loud. He told me he would love to work with me and thought he could really help me out. So, after talking it over with my family, we scheduled a conference call with Mario and we talked about everything from musical style, goals, and what we would like to accomplish and after the phone call we realized he was the perfect fit for us. We hit it off instantly and I jokingly requested a [Juan] Treviño song — who I’m a big fan of, not believing it would be possible, and he said, “sure I can do that,” and well he did. I couldn’t [have] imagine a better debut single than “Este Dolor,” [released on July 20, 2016]. It was the ultimate introduction of who I am as an artist. Not only is it crazy to believe that this song continues to get airplay on many of our Tejano stations still — pretty regularly. But to know that my first single was produced by multi-Grammy winning individuals is mind blowing,” explained Saldivar, who I can confidently call — Tejano music’s “next big” star.