EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Rosa Maria Medina was 15 when she watched her first Juan Gabriel concert. The escapade cost her a beating.
“I spent the money my father gave me for shoes,” she said. “I always admired him. I’m sad that he’s no longer with us, but he lives on in our hearts.”
On Friday, Medina and dozens of border residents lined the gates to the late singer’s iconic white mansion on Juarez’s 16th of September Avenue. It’s the fourth anniversary of Juan Gabriel’s death and the singer’s family and Juarez city officials are marking the occasion with a music festival in a plaza next door.
Small groups of people will be allowed to tour the home’s gardens from 7-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and residents of Juarez and El Paso can follow the festivities online each evening, said Laura Dominguez, Juarez’s director of social development.
“He was much talented and loved and brought a lot of positive attention to Ciudad Juarez,” she said. “Alberto Aguilera died but Juan Gabriel lives on. He sang about love and heartbreak, joy and sadness. Who hasn’t cried with (his songs)?”
The lineup includes Mexican country singer Aida Cuevas, Grupo Hacha and various mariachi bands.
Juan Gabriel, the nom-de-guerre for one Alberto Aguilera Valadez, became one of Latin America’s best-selling singers and songwriters during a career that spanned 51 years. Songs like “Amor Eterno” and “Querida” have become classics in the Spanish language.
Juan Gabriel died of a heart attack on Aug. 28, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. His body was cremated and the ashes are kept inside the mansion at 16th of September Avenue.
Performers have been flown in from Mexico City to take part in the festivities. Juan Gabriel’s star on Friday was restored to a sidewalk on Juarez Avenue after being removed during the construction of the city’s new Path of Lights.
Juan Manuel Adriano Ramirez said he met the singer and his family several decades ago, just before Juan Gabriel became a mega-star in the Spanish pop scene. He said the singer inspired him to write poems, essays and songs.
“I think in death he’s become even more famous, more loved and respected,” Adriano said. “His life itself is a story of struggle, suffering and success. He left the urge in many of us to aspire to be better than we were perhaps destined to.”