The album was released in late 1987 and immediately became a global smash hit. At 2 1/2 million US sales, it stands as the biggest selling non-English language album in American record history. This album has been RIAA certified Double-Platinum (for over 2 million US copies sold) and also won Ronstadt the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album at the 31st Grammy Awards.
These canciones were a big part of Ronstadt's family tradition and musical roots. The title Canciones De Mi Padre refers to a booklet that the University of Arizona published in 1946 by Ronstadt's deceased aunt, Luisa Espinel who had been an international singer in the 1920s. The songs come from Sonora and Ronstadt included her favorites on the album. Also, Ronstadt has credited the late Mexican singer Lola Beltrán as an influence in her own singing style, and she recalls how a frequent guest to the Ronstadt home, Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero, father of Chicano music, would often serenade her as child with these songs.
In the accompanying printed material, each song's Spanish lyrics were paired with an English translation and a discussion of the song's background or its significance for Ronstadt (omitted on the CD). Rubén Fuentes served as musical director/bandleader. Follow-up albums include Mas Canciones, Frenesí, and the Rhino Records compilation Mi Jardin Azul: Las Canciones Favoritas, which collects songs from the previous three Spanish-language albums.