Born as Emilio Navaira III on 23 August 1962 in San Antonio, Texas, he is oftentimes referred to as the Garth Brooks of Tejano music and is one of the few performing artists specializing in Mexican-Texan music that has achieved recognition and success in both Mexico and the United States. Going by the performing name of Emilio, he has more than ten singles on the Billboard Hot Latin Track charts to his credit, led by “Por Siempre Unidos,” which peaked at No. 7 on the Latin Pop Airplay in 1996. He has also charted six singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks—a testament of his singing versatility, which allows him to switch from Tejano to country music and render these with equal passion. His biggest country hit, “It’s Not the End of the World,” topped at No. 27 in 1995.
Music has been with Emilio Navaira since his childhood. Mentored by his father, he started singing at home, and later taught himself to play the guitar that his father purchased for him from a pawnshop. As he gained confidence, Emilio started joining his family at social gatherings and family events singing songs from Little Joe Hernandez, Willie Nelson, George Strait and Ramon Ayala. After graduating from McCollum High School in 1980, Emilio enrolled at the Southwest Texas State University under a music scholarship intending to eventually become a music teacher.
While working towards his degree, Emilio Navaira had the opportunity to rub elbows with the likes of Dorothy Lamour and Earl Holloman playing the role of Frederick in the musical “The Sound of Music” at the Fiesta Dinner Theater in San Antonio. Then, in 1985, he started his singing career as lead vocals for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales whose Cuantas Veces album edged out the Alpha album of the late Mexican American singer, Selena for the Album of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards in 1987. Two years later, Emilio formed his own band, Emilio y Grupo Rio and signed up with Columbia Records where he recorded 15 albums with his Rio Band and, later, as solo artist. After signing up with Capitol Records in the mid-90s, Emilio released his first country music single, “It’s Not the End of the World,” which entered the Top 30 country charts in 1995, as well as his album, which topped at Number 13 on the country charts.
Through the nature of his charities, this Tejano and country music artist reveals his soft heart for children. He has hosted since 1990 the Emilio Navaira’s Tejanos for Children Foundation that raised over $900,000 for the benefit of the Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. Dominating the Tejano scene for over 12 years, Emilio has won several awards such as the 1993 Album of the Year, 1995 Video of the Year, 1996 Tejano Country of the Year and the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1998.