Tejano Icon Emilio Navaira Dead at 53

Emilio Navaira at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards
M. Caulfield/WireImage

Emilio Navaira accepts the award for Best Tejano Album at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. 

Emilio Navaira, Tejano icon and Grammy-winning singer, died Monday night at age 53 in his Texas residence, authorities confirmed to the Associated Press.

According to a statement sent from a New Braunfels, TX, police spokesman, the "Por siempre unidos" singer was found unresponsive at his home on Monday (May 16). He was later pronounced dead at a hospital, with preliminary results indicating he died of natural causes. An autopsy will be performed later this week. 

Considered to be a pioneer in the Tejano genre (traditional Mexican music with a mix of polka and some country), Navaira is credited for introducing the accordion-based music to mainstream in the 1990s along with Selena Quintanilla, whom he shared the stage with during a Tejano Music Awards ceremony. They also recorded a single together called "Te robaste mi corazón." 

He began his career at age 21 as vocalist to the band David Lee Garza y los Musicales. He then created his own band with brothers Raúl and Ivette called Emilio y Grupo Río, with whom he pioneered the shuffle dance. 

On the Billboard charts, Navaira has six songs on the Hot Latin Songs chart and six singles on Hot Country Songs. He also had seven charting albums on the Top Latin Albums chart and two on the Top Country Albums chart. His album Acuérdate won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Tejano Album. 

He last performed at the iconic Arena Monterrey in Nuevo León, Mexico for Mother's Day. 

Suzette and A.B. Quintanilla took to social media to mourn the death of Navaira.