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Get ready to sing along

December 14, 2016 GMT

If you plan on attending a Vikki Carr performance, prepare to sing. If not, you might feel left out.

The legendary singer, who will take the stage along with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Mariachi Aztlán and Ballet Folklorico at 8 p.m. Friday at the McAllen Performing Arts Center, has grown accustomed to her fans signing along at her concerts.

In fact, she prefers it. “I love it,” she said.

It doesn’t matter if you’re tone deaf or sing like Adele, she wants to hear you. During her concerts Carr will conduct the audience and even advise them when to hold a long note.

“I’ll tell them, ‘I’m so glad that you were good. We had an agent looking for a great audience, and you got the job,’” Carr said laughing.

Carr, 75, has an extensive music catalog to sing along to. She is known for such hits as “It must be him” (1967) and “Cosas del Amor” (1991). Because her career dates back to the early 1960s, Carr’s fan base includes multiple generations.

The Mexican-American singer signed with Liberty Records in 1962 and has been a consistent performer since, first as an English pop star before moving to the Spanish market, where she had greater success on the music charts.

“Their kids and grandchildren were raised with my music,” Carr said about her Latin fan base. “Sometimes I’ll get like three generations of people (at my concerts). They either want to bring their grandmother or mother. It is an incredible feeling — especially with the Latino community — to be so loved.”

On Friday, she will perform her Spanish hits estilo mariachi, or a mariachi version of her songs, she said.

During her multi-faceted career, Carr has won Grammys, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hosted the “Tonight Show” for Johnny Carson, and performed for five U.S. presidents and Queen Elizabeth II.

The closest Carr has come to a scandal during her decades-long career was after a performance at a White House State Dinner in 1974.

Carr was asked by President Gerald Ford to dance. Carr was making small talk with the president and asked him what his favorite Mexican dish was, and Ford reportedly responded, “You are.” The first lady, Betty Ford, was apparently not pleased.

Carr laughs off the attention she received from it, adding the media made it a bigger deal than what it was.

“I even got grilled by my mother,” Carr said. “She saw it on the National Enquirer. She called me and asked me, ‘What did you do at the White House?’”

Carr said she kept stepping on the president’s feet while they were dancing and even commented to him that it was like dancing with her dad.

Soon after the White House dinner she was off to Mexico for a promotional tour.

“When I got to Mexico, I was like the queen because I was President Ford’s favorite Mexican dish,” Carr said laughing.

No matter who Carr is performing for, whether for a president or Friday night’s audience, it’s what she loves to do. She’s been entertaining for more than 50 years and will continue to perform as long as her stamina and voice hold up, Carr said.

“If with my music I can make people happy or lift their spirits, that is what my job is,” Carr said. “There is nothing that makes me feel good like an audience that is happy.”

prasmussen@themonitor.com