TEMPLE, TX — In the early days of the COVID pandemic, Little Joe of Little Joe and La Familia set out on a mission to save "La Familia" meaning his fans and the rest of us... from corona-virus, becoming one of the first entertainers to wholeheartedly endorse vaccination against the virus. It's a fight that continues today.
It came after his own battle against COVID which threatened to endanger the career of the man known around the world for putting his own brand on the music business.
At age 80+ his familiar voice still sounds strong... but maybe an octave lower, and if you listen closely, you find the man who made the song "las Nubes" a worldwide hit, taking an extra breath or two.
Age could explain some of it... but Little Joe Hernandez of "little Joe Y La Familia" has a far better explanation.
He says COVID has literally taken his breath away, forcing him to breathe more, not only in singing, but even in conversation.
"The best thing so far in my life is surviving COVID so that I can continue doing what I'm doing. Me and my family as well you know"
He and his family caught the virus fairly early in the pandemic, but his story could come from any point in recent history.
It also came at a difficult time "La Familia Enterprises", as Little Joe had begun promoting his award winning biography "No Llore Chingon" in appearances around the country.
After Little Joe's book went to press, he faced the biggest challenge of his life. COVID hit him and his family hard and left a serious impression. even now Joe says he hasn't fully recovered, but he prays for it every day. He never misses a chance to talk about his COVID experience because he says one simple thing can spare us the pain and suffering his family endured.
He says, what felt like a bad flu turned worse.
" I was like really bad to the point where my breathing got shorter and shorter by the third day that problem breathing," he explained.
"That's what I was concerned before that, at that point, became scared. I said, Oh, sort of my lungs"'
Doctors call it, perhaps the most troubling and deadly symptom.
"Persons with severe disease also start to have greater than 50% Lung involvement. That means they'll start to have infiltrates, and they're all types all kinds of different infiltrates, but if greater than 50% of the lung is involved, that's really concerning and that means they have severe disease. And then there's that critical 5%. These are patients that progress on to respiratory failure, requiring intubation," explained Dr. Christy Reisinger, a Family Physician based in Austin.
Little Joe managed to dodge the respirator bullet and slowly recovered, but he soon learned he couldn't escape the lingering, lasting effects of COVID.
"I'm not back fully recovered. I think 90% Recovery. I'm having to, you know, I've run out of breath while in places and songs that I did not have to do before. Now i'm having to readjust and do follow up work so the phrasing of the music will accommodate some of those long notes. To find a place. Take a quick breath," said LIttle Joe.
And if you listen closely you can hear it in little Joe's post-COVID rendition of his most popular song "Las Nubes"
Doctors say many of us carry lingering effects of our own bouts with pneumonia and similar diseases.
But COVID Pneumonia, that's what they call it, carries additional symptoms, and recovery time can take many months. It's why after all this time, Little Joe only measures his recovery at about 90 percent.
That's also what makes Little Joe's campaign to make folks want the vaccinations so important.
"When I tell people, the public the audience about my experience. they sure pay attention.
I had some feedback. And I heard 'you speak about it. Joe and I went vaccinated and I'm asking family members and friends'. So I feel good about that," he said.
Thnrough a personal story.... HIS personal story, he focuses attention on what's important. No distractions... and gets his message across in no uncertain terms.
"you know there's so much untruth about the vaccine.
If people are dying, and I'll tell people, make them aware or remind them because in many cases they already know the vaccine may make you sick, or Ill feel bad for a day maybe two if you but it won't kill you. COVID will."
Yes, COVID will kill you, as it has so many. But Little Joe says he's determined not to let COVID win in the fight, not just for fans of la familia... but La Familia Del Mundo... the family of the world, and he's not about to let the virus take anything away from his groundbreaking career.
For more medical information on COVID, check out Dr. Christy's YouTube Channel.
Little Joe and La Familia provide updated concert information and souvenir items via theLittle Joe Y La Familia website