Oct. 19--A local artist who has left his mark across Texas is at a crossroads -- attracting national attention and loving every minute of it.
Jorge Moreno, a 1992 graduate of Monache High School who has dominated the Tejano music market, is now crossing into the Country music scene -- a move resulting in 2013 Latin Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Best New Album and Best New Tejano Artist; and 2013 Tejano Music Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Duet Song.
The Tejano Music Awards are tonight in San Antonio. The Latin Grammys are scheduled for November in Las Vegas.
"I'm honored and proud to have gotten to this point. I never imagined working with the people I'm working with now," Moreno said. "I am truly honored to have made it this far."
His fourth, and crossover, album "Crossroads" was released June 1, 2012 and has received rave reviews, with Tejano Magazine comparing some of his music to Country music artist George Strait. Two of the songs -- "Always Running From the Storm" and "Just Around the Bend" -- were written by Larry Bastian of Springville.
"'Running' written by Larry Bastian, Gene Ellsworth and Glen Gerham, was a memorable song to record," Moreno said. "I set the bar high on this song. I wanted it to sound very country."
"He's Got You, I've Got Mexico" is one of his favorite songs, Moreno said, and one he can play again and again. Tejano Magazine described it as the type of song that can be played in any Honky Tonk Juke box, with a worn-down button because "it's that good."
But it is song No. 8, "Just Around the Bend," that has many references to Porterville -- including a train station where the train no longer stops, a park with a cannon from the Civil War, and a drive-in theater that has been torn down.
Moreno said he first heard about Bastian approximately 10 years ago. But it was not until Moreno's mother died, he finally decided to call him.
"My mom would say, 'What are you afraid of? All he can do is say no.' She always supported everything I did," Moreno said. "I called [Bastian] up and he came to Porterville and met with me. Now we have a great working relationship. He's been very instrumental in the success of my albums."
Bastian said he has watched Moreno progress in the business over the years.
"He's a real good guy and I think the world of him. I'm real careful with what I turn loose of and what I don't," Bastian said. "These songs have been in my catalog and he came by and looked through the catalog and found some he liked."
Bastian said he felt confident Moreno would do the songs justice and that he sees him going far.
"He's real talented. I had no problem letting him have these. Jorge is really easy to talk to and real honest. He has an honest demeanor," Bastian said. "He's a really determined young man and he has talent. He's on his way. He has talent. He has the drive to endure slings and arrows. He's pretty well established in his market and he's one of those special guys who can sing Chicano music as well as country music."
Though Moreno -- a 2008 Grammy Award nominee and winner of the 2007 Las Vegas Tejano Makeover contest, and the Grand Giveaway at the 2007 National Tejano Music Convention -- has dominated the Tejano music scene, his beginnings are humble and he continues to see himself as an ordinary person.
The son of immigrant parents, Jose Moreno and the late Maria de la Luz Moreno, and one of 11 children, Jorge Moreno lived at Woodville Labor Camp and attended Woodville Elementary through fourth grade, Roche Elementary in fifth grade, and John J. Doyle Elementary in sixth grade, Bartlett Middle School, and graduated from Monache in 1992 and Porterville College in 1996. Moreno attended Cal State Sacramento for a year before returning to the area and graduating from CSU Bakersfield in 2000 with a bachelor in criminology and a minor in sociology.
He was into music through high school, he said, but it wasn't until 1992 or 1993, when people started noticing him, and what started as a hobby ended with him getting paid and traveling to perform, he said.
"As a kid, I grew up with Norteno music. I was influenced by my uncles playing accordion music," Moreno said. "Everybody else liked sports, except me. I was attracted to music."
Moreno said he remembers being influenced by the music his father bought him of Kenny Rogers and Eddie Rabbitt at the Tulare Flea Market as a child. He was also influenced by George Strait and Garth Brooks, Los Bukis and Emilio Navarra -- a Mexican George Strait.
"I launched my career in 1999. I used to be like a wedding singer," Moreno said.
After playing with several bands, he went solo more than 10 years ago, eventually turning professional -- his band consisting of Omar Nare on keyboards and accordion; Pete Buotte, drums; Steve Recendez, guitar; Jesse Brown, bass; and Patrick Contreras on violin.
Once he started recording, specifically his hit "Enamorado" -- it did not take long before he caught the attention of people in Texas and by the year 2000, he was traveling across Texas, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. He also played in Kansas City, Mo.
"Luz de Luna" received a Song of the Year nomination and his "In Love in Texas" received the Crossover Song of the Year nomination in the 2008 Tejano Music Awards. Moreno has also presented at the Tejano Music Awards in 2007, 2009 and 2012.
Just around the bend
Moreno said he plans to celebrate being a part of the Latin Grammy nomination by taking some of his band members to the Latin Grammys in November. He is out of the running at the Latin Grammys and the Tejano Awards, because he did not make the second cut, but is proud to have been considered.
In the meantime, he is working on a country music album involving big names and big writers, he said.
His manager, Jess Rodriguez, said he believes there is a definite need in the market for someone like Moreno.
"In the country music genre, they are looking for the next [crossover] and Jorge can fill that void," Rodriguez said. "He has the looks, the charisma, the voice, the personality, to make it happen. He's very passionate about the system."
Rodriguez said he, and album producer Robery Ybarra, see Moreno going far.
"I'm not afraid of failure. I'm no longer scared," Moreno said. "My mom instilled that in me."
His new album is available on iTunes, Amazon and at www.jorge-moreno.com.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.
(c)2013 The Porterville Recorder (Porterville, Calif.)
Visit The Porterville Recorder (Porterville, Calif.) at www.recorderonline.com
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