Tejano music pioneer to embark on a new health care career

Shelly Lares retiring at the end of next year to attend nursing school

SAN ANTONIOTejano music pioneer Shelly Lares has announced she will retire after her LMD82 Legacy Tour to promote her last album at the end of next year to embark on a very different demanding career.

Lares said she would start nursing school to become a hospice nurse to care for patients at the end of their lives.

“I know God put me on this earth for that purpose,” Lares said.

She said that she’s proud of what she’s accomplished during her 40-year career, including being recognized for “Soy Tu Amor,” her first number one hit, as the most played Latin song in 1994. She later became the youngest inductee in the Tejano Music Hall of Fame and was nominated for both a Grammy and Latin Grammy, including one for a song she did on her own recording label.

“In a world of major, major labels, it’s not an easy task,” Lares said.

But amid her success, Lares said, “I always wanted to do something bigger and more meaningful in my life.”

Lares didn’t know what that would be until she became her father’s caretaker.

God was planting that seed within my heart,” she said.

Lares said hospice care needs someone who is emotionally and spiritually strong.

“I just feel like death is not the end. It’s the beginning,” Lares said. “So the transition of life after death, I understand it, and I’m OK with it, and I accept it, and I know it.”

Lares said she studied fitness, nutrition and physical therapy online and now plans to attend a private college of nursing. She said the cost of tuition would be partially covered thanks to the generosity of a former patient she called “Miss Helen.”

“I’m not going to let her down either because she was very proud of me,” Lares said. “I miss her every day.”

Karen Von Der Bruegge, Miss Helen’s daughter, said she understands why Lares was known as “Little Miss Dynamite.”

“She sure lived up to her ‘label’ at our house. We called her the Energizer Bunny,” Von Der Bruegge said.

She said that, at first, the family was unaware Lares was an icon in the Tejano music industry.

Von Der Bruegge said Lares never sang at their house, but she would call the cardinals in their backyard.

“She believed they were the souls of our dead fathers,” Von Der Bruegge said.

She said her mom loved the way the cardinals would respond to Lares.

“On the day mom died, a cardinal came to the glass door and looked in through the window,” Von Der Bruegge said.

WEB EXTRA: Shelly Lares shares memories of her bond with Miss Helen

Von Der Bruegge said perhaps her mother’s only regret was not seeing Lares perform live, but she visited Lares’ studio and enjoyed her music videos.

Von Der Bruegge said Lares even sang “Amazing Grace” acapella at her mother’s funeral, at Christ Episcopal Church.

“I know mom was giving her a standing ovation from heaven,” Von Der Bruegge said.

WATCH: Shelly Lares sings ‘Amazing Grace’ to honor Miss Helen

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.