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Estela Nuñez is an award-winning veteran vocalist in Mexican regional music whose fruitful, even legendary, career dates back to the 1960s.
Nuñez, who sang around the house and in church from childhood on, had no intention of becoming a recording artist; in fact, she actively resisted it. Her father, however, realizing her immense talent, got her a slot on the Mexican station Televisia on a talent program. She lost, more than likely due to her age (she was ten). Her father re-entered her the following year under the name Estela Rodriguez and dressed her to look older; she won.
In 1967, at the age of 16, she recorded the vocals for the songs on the soundtrack of the Mexican film Sor Ye-Ye and experienced her first hit with "Una Lágrima," though it was thought to be sung by the film's actress, Hilda Aguirre. Nuñez began regularly recording demos for other singers to record, though they occasionally slipped through to get radio play. One was her own version of "Una Lagrima" with a different arrangement — also in 1967 — and the public realized Nuñez was the vocalist behind the hit, sending her new version to the top of the charts.
She recorded a handful of singles over the next couple of years, not releasing her debut album until 1970; it featured rancheras and mariachis, bandas, and even Sinaloense. Her backing band on the date was Banda El Recodo. Though several of the album's tracks charted, "Odiame" hit the top spot.
Over the next few years, Nuñez recorded songs for an astonishing variety of singles including "Perdón Cariño Mío," a version of an Italian song.
Nuñez's numerous singles, written for her especially by some of the best songwriters of the era, regularly appeared on the charts throughout the '70s and '80s, as did her albums. Her concert appearances in Mexico, Latin America, Europe, and the United States were more often than not sold-out affairs.
Also in the '70s, Nuñez became an actress, appearing in hit movies such as El Hijo de los Pobres in 1974, Mi Ranchito in 1976, and El Agente Viajero in 1978. In 1980, she appeared with Juan Gabriel and Julio Aleman in Del Otro Lado del Puente.
In 1990, she released the full-length Desafio, one of her best-selling recordings with the Mexican press commenting regularly that for an artist 25 years into a career, she was not only relevant, but a trendsetter in the evolution occurring in Regional Mexican music. Nuñez was a regular on television programs throughout the decade, and a blockbuster live attraction until she was forced to quit touring for a period. After the death of her father from a heart attack, she began experiencing optic neuritis, which would leave her blind for periods of five months at a time. She was misdiagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent considerably unnecessary steroid treatment before a proper diagnosis was reached and new treatment options undertaken. She did continue to record, however, issuing 1995's Para Enamorados and 1998's now classic Si Me Recuerdas (the last time one of her recordings charted).
In the 21st century, Nuñez toured less, but albums appeared regularly including 2000's Con el Sentimiento de un Grande, 2005's Contigo, 2006's Estela Nuñez con El Mariachi de Javier Carrillo, 2007's Estela Interpeta a Juan Gabriel, 2011's Estela Nuñez Banda Sinaloense los Yakis, and 2013's Yo Se Que Te Acordaras con Mariachi.
In 2006, Nuñez placed her handprints on Mexico's Paseo de las Luminarias, and in 2013 she was honored as a “Galardón Inmortal” at Feria de Leon, and presented with El Arlequín de Bronce to celebrate her lifetime career achievements.