Tejano music or Tex-Mex Music (Mexican-Texan music) is the name given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Hispanic populations of Central and Southern Texas. In recent years, artists such as Selena, often referred to as "The Queen of Tejano", La Mafia, Jay Perez, and Mazz, Jennifer Pena have transformed Tejano music from primarily a local, ethnic form of music to a genre with wide appeal in North America, Latin America, Europe, and beyond.
In the 1690s Spain settled the area that is now known as Texas. In 1718, San Antonio was established as a midway point to the missions of east Texas.
In 1745, Spain settled the area we now call the Rio Grande Valley, thus was born the Tejano (a Texan of Spanish heritage). Because of the remoteness of Texas at the time and its proximity to Louisiana, Tejano culture was very much tied to the Cajun culture, and its influence can still be heard in the region's music.
In the 1850s Europeans that came from Germany (first during Spanish time and 1830s), Poland and what is now the Czech Republic migrated to Texas and Mexico, bringing with them their style of music and dance. They brought with them the waltz, polkas and other popular forms of music and dance. However it was not until the Mexican Revolution (1910–1917) that forced many of these Europeans to flee Mexico and into South Texas, that their musical influence was to have a major impact on Tejanos.
At the turn of the century, Tejanos were mostly involved in ranching and agriculture. The only diversion was the occasional traveling musician who would come to the ranches and farms. Their basic instruments were the flute, guitar, and drum, and they sang songs that were passed down through the generations from songs originally sung in Spain and Mexico. One of these musicians was Lydia Mendoza, who became one of the first to record Spanish music as part of RCA's expansion of their popular race records of the 1920s. As these traveling musicos traveled into areas where the Germans, Poles and Czechs lived, they began to incorporate the oom-pah sound into their music. Narciso "El Huracan del Valle" Martinez, known as the father of Conjunto music, defined the accordion's role in Conjunto music.
Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional forms such as the Corrido and Mariachi, and Continental European styles, such as Polka, 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.
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