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Yolanda del Rio To Serenade Fairgoers

Yolanda del Rio, known as "La Gran Senora de Mexico," will bring her singing talents to the 2008 Merced County Fair.

The artist will perform Sunday, July 20, wrapping up six nights of headliner entertainment in the Merced County Fair's Outdoor Theatre. The fair is July 15-20.

Nicknamed by her fans as "La Gran Senora de Mexico," or "The Great Lady of Mexico," del Rio is one of the biggest stars of Mexican regional music. She's among the most successful singers of the Ranchera style, Mexican country style music that's characterized by "banda," the traditional brass band sound.

Opening the fair on Tuesday, July 15 is Craig Morgan, whose album "Little Bit of Life," remains on the top country album charts after more than a year. Also performing at the fair on Wednesday, July 16, will be Rooney, a five-man band from Southern California, known for their rock/pop sound, The Guess Who and their classic rock hits, Thursday, July 17, The Spinners' timeless R & B sound, Friday, July 18 and country music's rising star, Terri Clark, will entertain fairgoers Saturday, July 19. All Outdoor Theatre concerts are at 9 p.m.

As always, all fair headline acts are free with the price of admission. The 2008 Fair theme is "Come Rock With The Flock," a salute to sheep, one of the county's top agricultural products.

Born Yolanda Jaen Lopez in Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico, del Rio was the youngest of four children. When she was just 5 years old, she began performing at local festivals and events.

Her mother was encouraged to take Yolanda to Mexico City to audition for a children's TV program and the little girl placed first in the competition. She continued to perform and compete in other contests and at 14, del Rio recorded a song for a small record label. Her brother convinced a disc jockey friend to play the song on the radio and it was well received.

A talent agent, who was impressed by del Rio's singing, searched for four months to find the girl behind the dramatic voice he heard on the radio. When he finally found Yolanda, he convinced her to do a test for the RCA record label. Her performance also impressed the music executives and she was invited to record two songs, "La Carta Que Hoy Te Escribo" (The Letter That I Wrote to You Today) and "La Hija de Nadie" (Nobody's Daughter). The second song was somewhat controversial and some radio stations boycotted it because of the title, but it was a big hit. As a result of her success, she was offered a recording contract and released an album titled "La Hija de Nadie." It sold one million copies in six months and made the teenager a star.

Del Rio's musical career took off from there with more albums and successful tours performing before sold out audiences in Mexico, the United States, Central and South America and Europe. The hits kept coming, including "Se Me Olvidó Otra Vez," "Tus Maletas en la Puerta," "Llorar, Llorar, Llorar," and "Camas Separadas," and del Río eventually sold almost 20 million records around the world. She has recorded 43 albums, including one in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that was recorded in Portuguese. She even grabbed a Grammy nomination in 1984.

Del Rio made the transition to the film world and found a movie producer to make her hit song, "La Hija de Nadie," into a movie and that was a big hit, too. The film set box office records in Mexican theatres. Del Rio and her producer became partners and went on to produce 10 more movies.