Tex-Mex and Tejano
- Tejano is also the name given to Texans of Mexican or Spanish origin.
Tejano (Spanish for "Texan") and Tex-Mex music are names given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Mexican-descended Tejanos of Central and South Texas. In recent years artists such as Selena Quintanilla have transformed Tejano music from primarily a local, ethnic form of music to a genre with wide appeal in North America, Latin America, and beyond.
Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional Mexican forms such as the corrido, and Continental European styles introduced by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th century. In particular, the accordion was adopted by Tejano folk musicians at the turn of the 20th century, and it became a popular instrument for amateur musicians in Texas and Northern Mexico. Small bands known as orquestas, featuring amateur musicians, became a staple at community dances.
Narciso Martinez (1911–1992) gave Tejano accordion playing a new virtuosity in the 1930s, when he adopted the two button row accordion. At the same time, he formed a group with Santiago Almeida, a bajo sexto (twelve string bass guitar) player. Their new musical style, known as conjunto soon became the popular music of the working class Tejano. Flaco Jimenez (1939-), the son of an accordionist and grandson of a man who had learned the instrument from a German immigrant, carried on Martinez's tradition of accordion virtuosity and became a fixture on the international World Music scene by the 1980s.
In the 1950s and 1960s, rock and roll and country music made inroads, and electric guitars and drums were added to conjunto combos. Also, performers such as Little Joe added both nuances of jazz and R&B, and a Chicano political consciousness.
In the 1980s, electronic instruments and synthesizers increasingly dominated the sound, and Tejano music increasing appealed to bilingual country and rock fans in the Southwest. In the early 1990s, Selena Quintanilla Perez (1971–1995) and her band Los Dinos infused pop and cumbia (a lilting Colombian dance rhythm) into Tejano music, making the genre popular with non-Mexican Latinos and Latin Americans. In the wake of her murder, Selena's music received attention from a mainstream American audience as well.
At the turn of the 21st century, today's Tejano music, while far more pop-oriented than in its Depression era roots, is one of the most vital regional musical styles in the United States.
The term Tex-Mex is also used in American rock and roll for Tejano-influenced performers such as the Sir Douglas Quintet, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Louie and the Lovers, The Champs with "Tequila", and the Texas Tornados, featuring Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyer, and Doug Sahm.
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