Sunny Ozuna: Tejano music legend still going strong after five decades

Friday at Agave fest in Marfa

MARFA – For the past 53 years, Tejano music artist Sunny Ozuna has kept busy writing and recording music across many genres and touring behind his releases.

On Friday, the iconic San Antonio-based singer and bandleader marks his return to Marfa with an 8pm Agave Fest performance at Saint George Hall with his group, the Sunliners.

The Resonators of Presidio featuring Tejano idol winner Molly Ferguson open for the legendary artist.

“I like the area and wish we could work it more often,” Ozuna said of performing in the Big Bend Region. “It gives us a chance to show new people what we can do. It’s always fun to meet new people. We’ve been playing music for five generations and it’s still exciting.”

The 74-year-old musician hasn’t been slowed down by age, releasing his latest record, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul (a collection of Ozuna’s music from 1966 – 1972), in September, and embarking on tours around the U.S. and taking gigs on Carnival cruise ships.

“I do a lot of rock n roll and R&B shows along the West Coast,” Ozuna said of his latest record. “We were offered a contract with Big Crown Records, who wanted to give a resurgence on the R&B side of our music. Even though we started off with a heavy R&B sound, this record allowed us to get into areas we’ve never been before.”

The record is available on gatefold vinyl, CD, and digital media at https://bigcrownrecords.com/store/sunnythe-sunliners-mr-brown-eyed-soul.

When he began his musical career at age 19, Ozuna explained, there was no musical classification for his music, which employed the soul of R&B music with Mexican rhythms and rock n roll energy.

“When I started out, fresh out of high school, we had a number 1 song on the top 40 called “Talk to Me.” We got to play on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and it was a rush,” he told the Big Bend Sentinel. “We were playing a genre of music that didn’t exist, which was later called Tejano, but we weren’t identifying as any genre. We were dealing with being called ‘Tex-Mex music’ or ‘Chicano music’ before there was any market. Nobody really knew how to explain our sound.”

The sound he helped create, Ozuna said, has percolated through generations, with the sound continuing on to this day.

“We planted the seed in other musicians with our sound that would reflect back on Hispanics, and here we are 53 years later still doing it,” he said, commenting on the current state of Tejano music. “It’s just like medicine. It’s constantly changing. It’s not a drastic, sudden change. For instance, when we started out, we were playing with a lot of brass, and then we went to electronics, just modifying the sound. The kids these days are coming up with their own ideas. It’s refreshing and it keeps the old guys on their toes.”

In September, Ozuna is set to embark on the three-day Latin Legends Cruise from Long Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico alongside Little Willie G and famed funk band WAR. The cruise will be Ozuna’s second, after his three-day cruise ship stint with Rene Y Rene and Malo this past May.

“The cruise ship shows really worked out well and it proves that the Tejano thing is going really well. I had such a good time and I hope to do more. Especially if it’s a cruise ship going to Jamaica,” he said with a laugh.

For more information on the Latin Legends Cruise, please visit www.latinlegendscruise.com .

For more information about Ozuna, please visit the musician’s website at www.sunnyozuna.com .

Tickets are currently on sale for the Agave Festival show for $10 at the Marfa Book Company or online at www.agavemarfa.com/store/tickets-sunny-ozuna-andthe-sunliner-band-1.


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