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La Mafia, Redux?

Fama wants to be Houston's next Spanish-language breakthrough

Where the band is at right now is standing on the verge of penetrating the fabled crossover market. A new CD, Lagrimas De Alegria, has been certified gold mere months after its release, and the group is considering including an English-language tune on an upcoming CD.

"It's in our future," says Galvan. "It's just a matter of someone taking that initiative and attacking that market."

The career and martyrdom of Selena, and her music's consequent entry into the pop charts, has made a difference. "It's opened a lot of doors," Galvan admits, "and that is a lot of help for us to get into the English market."

Promotion is regarded as the key, and Fama works it as hard as any band in any style: six months a year on the road, across the United States and into Mexico, with hopes to penetrate Central and South America soon. When Fama isn't on the road, they're recording or doing promotional appearances. The group films a video for every new single, mostly in Miami, and is a steady presence on talk shows and video programs distributed throughout the Americas by Spanish language networks such as Telemundo and Univision. Bud Light recently sponsored the band to the tune of $350,000 over a six-month period for billboards, TV spots, radio buys, posters and print advertising. A Reebok endorsement provides the band with cleats and clothes for its regular charity softball and basketball games. Now, says Galvan, Fama is on the verge of signing with the William Morris Agency, which should be able to place the band on tours with the likes of the Gipsy Kings and Jon Secada. Fama members also talk about wanting to get into the movies.

Cutting-edge Anglo bands often try to distance themselves from the careerist component of pop music (usually just after they've made enough money to comfortably retire on), but Fama has a more straightforward attitude about what they're doing. Galvan guesses that Fama may have ten good years left, during which he'd like to see the band "conquer the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America."

But after that, there's still a life to live. "I don't want to tour for the rest of my life," Galvan says. "I want to do as much as I can in the music business, but I like the recording end of it, the producing. That's really what I want to do after we've already done what we're going to do. It's also a fallback for us after we retire."

Galvan laughs about the group's retirement plans and his own budding publishing company, but you can tell he's dead serious about all of it.

"I'm not trying to put anybody down at all, that's not our style," he says, "but a lot of people, a lot of bands, they just go out and do their gigs and all, and they don't plan. It's just like working somewhere. You have to set yourself up for later years, and that's what we're doing. We're trying to play our cards right to have something for later years."

Fama performs at 4 and 10 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Texas Cultural Pavilion, 13700 Beechnut, 564-727. Free.

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