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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The story behind TXST’s self-taught ranchera singer

Kobe Arriaga
Business management sophomore Pablo Cardona performs “Que Chulada de Mujer” at the men’s basketball halftime show, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Strahan Arena.

On Saturday, Jan. 20, Pablo Cardona wowed the crowd at a men’s basketball game with a musical performance. While some might think that Cardona has been participating in the art of ranchera music for years, his hobby started one year and eight months ago as a secret.

Cardona, a business management sophomore, first debuted his talent for singing ranchera music his senior year at a high school talent show. His friends and family had no idea that he could sing and were shocked by his performance. He won first place.

“It was a shocker for real,” Cardona said. “My grandma who only speaks Spanish was absolutely shocked. I mean, my entire family was, because I never showed any interest in music, I never showed any interest in mariachi.”

Cardona’s first performance went viral on TikTok receiving about 2.5 million views. He went on to participate in the TXST’s Got Talent Show in 2022 and 2023 winning first place consecutively.

After winning the TXST’s Got Talent Show in October 2023, Cardona was selected from the participants to sing ranchera during halftime. The singer’s long time friend Madeline Campbell, a health sciences junior, recorded his halftime performance and was just as blown away as she was when she first heard his voice in high school.

“It’s actually funny because I’ve heard him sing that song so many times because we’ll be in the car and he’ll be blasting the music and just start belting it,” Campbell said. “[I’ve] always [been] really blown away every time he pulls the mic down in his performance and shows how powerful his lungs are. It blows [me] away every single time.”

In an attempt to learn Spanish, Cardona began to enjoy listening to ranchera music five years ago. Wanting to connect with his other family members, especially his grandma who only speaks Spanish, Cardona was motivated to learn Spanish as his second language.

Throughout high school, Cardona took four Spanish classes, building strong connections with his teachers. His Spanish two and four teacher Dana Suarez, was impressed by his high school talent show performance and said his pronunciation was perfect.

“It’s just so much fun to watch him,” Suarez said. “It’s great that he gets to use his Spanish. I know he’s been able to connect better with his grandparents through the Spanish he’s learned. So I really enjoy watching him.”

Cardona’s passion for learning Spanish was recognized by his Spanish one teacher, Elizabeth Lopez, who is happy but not surprised that he has gone far with his talent for singing ranchera.

“He was a very strong student,” Lopez said. “He came in with this positive attitude. Other kids would always complain…and he never once complained about the assignments. He was always the first one to finish.”

Singing ranchera music makes Cardona feel closer to his Mexican heritage. After his idol Vicente Fernández passed in 2021, Cardona became passionate about keeping the tradition of ranchera music alive through learning and performing traditional songs.

“The biggest part I like about singing is being able to share my culture,” Cardona said. “I love being able to show other people what cultures lie around the world, especially in Mexico. I mean, not a lot of people really see that here in Texas.”

Besides his talent for singing, Cardona remains very passionate about his future in the business industry and plans to take any opportunity to keep on singing ranchera music. He will audition again to participate in the TXST’s Got Talent Show this Fall.

“If I ever got the opportunity to do this as a job, a career, a side gig, absolutely I would do it because I love to sing,” Cardona said.

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