Pioneer pre-saged Selena as Tejano queen.

Tejano music legend Laura Canales died April 16 in Corpus Christi, Texas, of complications following surgery. She was 50 years old.

Canales was the first massively popular female singer in the macho world of Tejano music, following the pioneering careers of Chelo Silva and Lydia Mendoza.

Before Selena, Canales was recognized as the "Reina de la Onda Tejana" ("Queen of Tejano music"). Veteran San Antonio songwriter and producer Luis Silva said fans today don't realize how big Canales was in her day.

"Laura was as big as anyone could possibly be in the Tejano market of the '80s. She was it.”

Canales made her recording debut in 1973 with Los Unicos, and then joined the seminal group El Conjunto Bernal for a short stint. Her first regional hit came with a cover of "Midnight Blue," which she performed with Snowball & Co.

In 1981, she married drummer Balde Munoz and formed Laura Canales & Encanto. Their debut CD, "Si Vivi Contigo," produced her first major hit, the title track. Written by Silva, it vaulted Canales to the upper echelon of the Tejano market.

From 1983 to 1987, Canales won both the female entertainer and female vocalist honors at the Tejano Music Awards, a record that stood until Selena eclipsed it in the mid-'90s.
The images of Canales from her '80s heyday always showed her impeccably dressed, her hair perfectly coifed and flashing a thousand-watt smile.

In 1989, Canales quit Encanto over management differences and went into semi-retirement before signing with the upstart label EMI Latin and later Fonovisa. Her subsequent Tejano hits included "Cuatro Caminos," "Dame La Mano" and "Dile a Tu Esposa." She was inducted into several halls of fame, including the Tejano ROOTS organization.