The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is considered by many to be the city’s defining cultural institution. Over the years, countless performers have shone during the 20 day event, and since 1931, it’s been one of the premier affairs in Southeast Texas. For many artists, including Texan country singer Kacey Musgraves, a chance to shine on that storied stage is a career-affirming homecoming of sorts. And last night – just one day after presenting at the Oscars – Musgraves took to that stage like a natural and paid tribute to the undisputed Tejano queen, Selena.
For three consecutive years starting in 1993, Selena Quintanilla broke attendance records at the Houston Rodeo, culminating in her now-mythical 1995 Astrodome performance. One of the highlights of her performance that year – which also included the seemingly ubiquitous disco medley – came in the form of a slow-burning, heartfelt rendition of “Como La Flor.”
23 years later, Musgraves offered up her own version of the anthem as tribute, noting to the audience “I love the queen as much as you do!” while wearing a pair of bell bottoms most likely meant to recall the iconic purple jumpsuit Selena wore at the fabled 1995 concert.
Musgrave’s version kept the spirit of the original alive, beginning with the slow intro, and moving into a cumbia rhythm. But the use of pedal steel and acoustic guitars also gave it her signature country twang. Last night’s version built on the “Como La Flor” interlude the recent Grammy winner has been known to perform before. And even though her pronunciation was a little rough around the edges at some moments (though it’s worth noting, she really did roll those r’s), the earnest tribute landed well with audiences, prompting a passionate sing-along in the late Tejano queen’s home turf. It even drew praise from the late singer’s sister, Suzette, who posted it on her Instagram, along with a thankful caption.