Tonight: Vicente Fernandez at Toyota Center

Regarded by many as "The Sinatra of Rancheras," Vicente Fernandez is arguably the best-known singer of his genre, and is one of the first to reach international icon status without having to resort to any other musical style. The comparison to Sinatra is not difficult to understand: The former gave his trademark stamp to American standards, and "El Rey" has done the same with the national folk music of Mexico.

Fernandez did not have an easy start, however. After playing in mariachi bands during the mid-'60s, he was signed by CBS in 1966, and only after ten years on the road did he finally score a major hit with "Volver, Volver." His career finally took off after that, and eventually he became the first artist to sell out Mexico City's Plaza del Toros, where he played for a crowd of 50,000. These days he regularly tours the United States, playing to large crowds despit being virtually ignored by the English-speaking press. - Ernest Barteldes

6 p.m. tonight at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 713-758-7200.

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Ernest Barteldes