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Karaoke Queen
Karaoke Queen
Karaoke Queen

Cindy DeLeon in queenly garb as a member of the St. John’s Fiesta court.
Submitted photo

Karaoke Queen

Cindy DeLeon reigns on stage with a lifetime of passion, experience
Sunday, March 31, 2024

Every Thursday night in San Marcos, The Queen takes the stage. With her bright white hair and sparkling silver jewelry, Cindy Pastrano DeLeon reigns amazing over the karaoke stage at Jack’s Roadhouse, where fellow patrons have bestowed upon her the title of Karaoke Queen.

The title is well-earned. Karaoke at Jack’s Roadhouse starts at 10 p.m., garnering a rainor- shine crowd of regulars who come to support each other’s singing. DeLeon, who has been singing for as long as she can remember, is someone the whole crowd is always eager to see.

“Texas State comes to participate,” DeLeon said. “There’s good voices, and from different countries, you know?”

DeLeon’s Hispanic heritage is something deeply important to her and her music career, something that she feels proud to share with her fans wherever she sings.

“I’ve always dedicated my performances and my singing to my parents, because it was a pride for them in Mexico,” DeLeon said. “I tell a lot of Hispanics, and my kids, ‘It’s a beautiful culture that my parents left me. That’s all they could give me, just a bit of culture that I’ve been carrying along.” DeLeon’s first love of music is deeply rooted in that family and culture. “My parents used to have this oval, wooden radio. I would sit down on the floor out in the country and listen to those songs. That’s all I had: Spanish music. That’s what my parents spoke. So I started learning those.”

Born in Kingsbury, DeLeon only weighed two pounds at birth, according to her oldest sister, Josephine Pastrono Rangel.

“My great-great aunt Maria Pastrano Zuniga used to cuddle me up in a blanket close to her chest so I could survive being so tiny,” De-Leon said.

While DeLeon’s siblings were also musically inclined — her brother played accordion and taught her how to play guitar — she was the only one to perform her music outside of their home. As a family of migrant workers, they often moved from town to town, so DeLeon never had a chance to settle into a public school choir.

“My parents worked in the fields,” DeLeon

Top photo: DeLeon in queenly regalia, shown with her son, Chris, who also sings karaoke. Images in the filmstrip show DeLeon’s illustrious singing career through the years.

Photos submitted by Cindy DeLeon explained. “We went to different schools. I went to Fentress, Prairie Lea, Lockhart and now here I am in San Marcos.”

But DeLeon’s first a cappella singing opportunity came while she was in school in Lockhart.

“They had a banquet for graduation, and they asked me to sing,” DeLeon said.

After that, DeLeon began singing all over South and Central Texas, participating in Friday assemblies at Lamar School in San Marcos and playing for Cinco de Mayo celebrations in and around San Antonio.

“We would play out in the country,” DeLeon said. “In the old times, my parents would work in the fields. People would have a house for us to live in, so on Sundays and in the evenings, we would sing and they would come and listen. That’s what they liked.”

Throughout her decades-spanning career, DeLeon has performed on stages all across the state, singing with Little Joe and Johnny from the Latineers and even meeting Texas’ iconic Latina, Selena. Her meeting with Selena deeply inspired De-Leon to compose music in her style.

“I’ve composed a lot of country music,” DeLeon said, “but I composed a cumbia in Selena’s style.”

She also finds that her comfort on stage encourages others to be more fluid in their movements during performances. DeLeon, a grandmother with three grandsons and three granddaughters, knows a thing or two about the importance of movement.

“When I started karaoke, there were no movements from anybody,” she said. “But when they saw me, now everybody will dance.” Then, smiling, she added, “I tell them I can get down with a twist, but I can’t get back up.”

DeLeon says that one of the best gifts her singing has given her has been a sense of pride shared with other Spanish-language musicians and singers who hear her.

“In my time, in high school, some of my classmates would look at me and say, ‘She’s singing in both languages.’ It got them going. I feel like I gave them that motivation to feel proud of their culture. A lot of people come to me and say, ‘I don’t understand what you’re singing, but you sing so beautiful. People that come from other countries tell me, “Oh you made me cry. But it’s a beautiful cry. You made me feel like I’m at home.”

This might explain why, after all this time, even without earning money for her passion, Cindy DeLeon returns every Thursday to take the stage and claim her crown. They call her the Karaoke Queen, and it’s a title she doesn’t take in stride.

“I’ve had my good times in music. I’ve met a lot of people,” DeLeon said. “I feel proud of myself.”

Catch Cindy DeLeon, aka the Karaoke Queen, singing at Jack’s Roadhouse on Thursday nights, starting at 10 p.m.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666