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San Antonio Musician Remembers Performing For JFK The Night Before He Was Killed

On November 21, 1963, in Houston, Texas, President John F.Kennedy and his wife Jackie, along with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, were entertained by San Antonio musicians. Fernando Herrera and other musicians gave the distinguished visitors a taste of Texas at the Crystal Ballroom in the Rice Hotel.

Herrera remembers the night well, and he had a great deal of interchange with the president himself.

"Much to my surprise, Kennedy was familiar with all the music because those Kennedys traveled all over the world. He knew my outfit," Herrera said.

JFK was familiar with the Andalusian clothing Herrera wore as part of his performing ensemble. Herrera still gushes about how fun the evening was.

"Very, very emotional and exciting. It was unbelievable," he said.

Herrera and other musicians serenaded the group with the well-known song "Cielito Lindo."

"And they loved it!" he said.

Herrera said Lady Bird in particular clapped her hands, got up and danced, much to the amusement of LBJ. All too soon though, the night was over. The next day, the president would die in Dallas and the event would be just a memory for Herrera.

"The rest is history," he said.

Over the next two years after the assassination, Herrera wrote a piece of music he entitled "A New Frontier," after Kennedy’s legislative agenda. To mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death, Herrera will be performing that music Tuesday night at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii