Emilio Navaira III (born August 23, 1962) is an American musician of Mexican descent, who performs both Country and Tejano music. Known to most by the mononym Emilio, he has charted more than ten singles on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks charts, in addition to six singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. Emilio is also one of the few Tejano artists to have significant success in both the United States and Mexico, and has been called the "Garth Brooks of Tejano." His biggest country hit was the No. 27 "It's Not the End of the World" in late 1995, and his highest-charting single on any chart is "Por Siempre Unidos," which peaked at No. 7 on Latin Pop Airplay in 1996. Along with Selena, Emilio is one of the most prominent artists to help popularize Tejano music.
Emilio Navaira III was born on August 23, 1962, in San Antonio, Texas to Emilio Navaira Jr., and Mary Navaira. Growing up on the south side of San Antonio, Navaira found early influence in not only tejano legends such as Little Joe y la Familia, Ramón Ayala, and Pedro Infante, but also Lone Star country music heroes such as Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, and George Strait. As a student, Navaria graduated from McCollum High School in 1980, received a music scholarship to Texas State University-San Marcos, and majored in music with plans to become a teacher before ultimately deciding to pursue a career as an artist.
In 1985 at age 23, Emilio began his performing career by singing lead vocals for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales. In 1987, Cuantas Veces by David Lee Garza Y Los Musicales beat out Alpha by Mexican American singer Selena for Album of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards. In 1989, Navaira formed his own band, Emilio y Groupo Rio. That same year Emilio signed with Columbia Records (then known as CBS Records). This relationship resulted in Emilio recording more than fifteen studio albums to date, including several with his Rio Band.
By the mid-1990s, Emilio began crediting himself solely as Emilio, eventually switching his focus to country music. Between 1989 and 1996, Emilio had released seven Spanish albums with cumulative sales of about 2 million. This success lead to mainstream commercial exposure, with companies such as Coca-Cola and Wrangler Jeans using his songs in their advertisements in the 1990s. Emilio had also gained a sponsorship with Miller Lite beer, who had persuaded him to use their slogan at the time, "Life is good," as the title of his first country album.
Emilio signed with Capitol Records and released his first country music single called "It's Not the End of the World" which reached the Top 30 on the country charts in 1995. His album was a surprise success as well reaching No. 13 on the country charts and also a high placing on the Top 200. Several more singles including a Spanish version of "It's Not the End of the World" followed but none of these singles came close to the Top 40 except "Even If I Tried" which reached No. 41 in 1996. In 1997, he released a second country album, "It's On The House" but it was not as successful as his first country album. Two more minor country singles followed and gradually Emilio faded from country music and increasingly came back to Tejano music.
Navaira has two siblings: Raul "Raulito" Navaira, who performs back-up vocals for Grupo Rio; and Yvette Navaira.
Navaira has five children. His three children from his first marriage to Cynthia Navaira also perform for Grupo Rio. Emilio Navaira IV plays drums, and Diego Navaira plays guitar and daughter Emely. He also has two from his second marriage to Maru Navaira.
In June 2011 Navaira's second wife, Maru, filed for divorce.
Navaira is a Republican.
Navaira was hospitalized in critical condition after his tour bus crashed early in the morning on March 23, 2008, in Bellaire (a small municipality partially surrounded by Houston, Texas). Navaira had performed the previous night at Hallabaloos, a Houston nightclub and he was at the wheel of the tour bus as it traveled north along west 610 Loop near the Southwest Freeway when it crashed into a set of freeway barrels shortly before 4 a.m. Emilio was taken by Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital where a blood clot in his head was removed; Emilio's initial treatment included being kept in a medically induced coma and induced hypothermia to minimize brain swelling. Doctors cautioned that he might not survive.
A March 27, 2008 press release from Memorial Hermann Hospital reported that on the evening of March 26 Emilio "opened his eyes and moved his arms and legs." On April 4, 2008, the hospital announced that Emilio underwent a surgical procedure on March 31 to repair a pseudoaneurysm in his right lung and that he remained in critical condition. On April 16, 2008, he was upgraded to fair condition. On April 23, the hospital announced that Emilio was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann as part of his rehabilitative care.
On May 1, 2008, police released initial reports that indicated that Emilio was intoxicated at the time of the crash. On May 8, the full report was released which indicated that Emilio had a blood alcohol content of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit in Texas. Authorities also indicated that Emilio was not licensed to drive a bus.
On September 24, 2008, Emilio was involved in another car accident in San Antonio as a passenger while his wife was driving. According to a witness, the Navairas were stopped in a turn lane when a truck crossed at least two lanes of traffic and struck their vehicle. Both Emilio and his wife Maria were released from the hospital the following day. Emilio's agent, Joe Casias, stated that Emilio and his wife were headed home from a rehabilitation therapy appointment stemming from the March tour bus accident.
Navaira has been arrested twice on DUI charges, paying a fine and serving probation for the first one in 2000 while the second arrest from 2005 remains unresolved.
He pleaded guilty to DWI charges stemming from the crash on March 13, 2009; he was sentenced to three days in jail and 27 days of house arrest.