What Is Tejano Music?

Music is something enjoyed all over the world. It brings entire nations, and people together. With time, different ethnicities have put their twist to the tunes, and have come up with new genres of music. One such very popular genre is Tejano Music. Tejano is a blend of European, Mexican, and American music styles. It is now enjoyed both nationally and internationally. 

What Is Tejano Music?

Tejano music is a genre of music born in the states of Texas and Mexico in the 18th century. Over three centuries, Tejano music has absorbed a lot of different styles, and instruments. The music features tunes from the Czech Republic and Germany, especially polka, and waltz. Here’s why the genre is called Tejano Music. The name Tejano was given to Mexican-Americans living in Texas. The music is played using the accordion and has since developed from being a small genre of music to being played on large stages worldwide. 

The Origins of Tejano Music

Tejano music was born in Texas, near the Mexican-Texas border, and in Northern Mexico. The origins of the genre can be traced back to people from Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, migrating to the US. These people influenced the Tejanos by their polka music and accordion. The accordion would go on to be the major instrument used to make Tejano Music. 

The music gained immense popularity with the working class. The Mexican working class spends days working and music is the perfect way to loosen up. Soon musicians and small bands became very common at festive events, and pubs and taverns. These small bands were called orquestas and included musicians that played the accordion, flute, guitar, and drums. Finally, the genre gained popularity after famous artists got their music recorded. More and more people heard Tejano Music through the radio, and later the television. 

Tejano Music is important for the Mexican-American people, not only because it is a part of their history, but also because it has kept their identity alive. In the racist times of the 1800s and 1900s, Tejano music was a way to bring Mexican-Americans out to the world.

Letty Guval was one of the most famous female music singers of Tejano music.  

The Three Forms of Tejano Music

The first form of Tejano music is conjunto. This was the original form of Tejano music but was seen as humble music, not good enough by Mexican standards. Conjunto was played using an accordion, and a bajo sexto. The music included waltz and polka elements. Conjunto music saw its golden age from the 1940s to the 1950s, with artists like Tone de la Rose, and Leonardo Jimenez. In recent times, the acoustic bass of the conjunto is replaced by an electric one, and a drum set is added. 

The second form of Tejano Music emerged in the 1930s and was called banda. Small and large orquestas have gained fame, one of which was La Orquesta de Beto Villa. Mexican folk music was added to the original Tejano, Conjunto form. The third form of Tejano Music was born in the 1960s and is called the Grupo. This form of Tejano used keyboard instruments and synthesizers. 

All three forms of Tejano Music helped bring it to the version we hear today. The constant evolution in the style, instruments, and feel of the music, has refined it to perfection and made it extremely popular in the 21st century. 

Suggested Reading – Top Outdoor Activities in Austin, Texas

Lynda V and the Boys CD Cover

The Fame of Tejano Music

While Tejano was already popular among the Mexican-American community in Texas, it still had a long way to go before it had a widespread following. During the Mexican Revolution, a lot of people migrated to Texas. These people spread around America taking with them the unique singing, and dancing styles of Tejano Music. These people spread their culture everywhere they went, sharing it with people they met, and thus, bringing Tejano Music out to a bigger audience. 

The biggest boom in the popularity of Tejano Music was when the songs were recorded and distributed. In the 1930s, Narciso Martinez was the first person to have recorded a Tejano Music song. His main purpose was to share his passion with the world, and didn’t care much for fame, or money. Narciso was the person that laid the foundation for the dreams of many young Hispanics, and one of them, a young girl named Selena, would go on to make the genre even popular. 

In the Second World War, the music in Texas divided itself. Conjunto became famous in South Texas. Working-class Americans liked the song too much. Santiago Jimenez and his son Flaco Jimenez, were popular conjunto singers. The other part of Tejano Music was orquestas, led by Beto Villa, Isidro Lopez, and Oscar Martinez.

Tejano music has emerged popular in many countries over the past few years. 

Famous Singers and Music Artists of Tejano Music


Selena is iconic when it comes to females in Tejano Music. She was born on 16, March 1971, and was a singer, songwriter, model, actress, and entrepreneur. She was about to become the most popular Mexican-American of the 20th century. According to Billboard magazine, she is the greatest female Latin artist of all time.

 Selena’s debut was as a member of a group “Selena y Los Dinos”, a group in which she was supposed to sing besides her siblings. She got popular when she won the Tejano Music Award in 1987. Right after this, she released a debut called “Selena”, in association with the EMI Latin Company in 1989. 

Selenas’ image as a fashion icon only boosted the influence of her work. People started to refer to her as “The Tejano Madonna”. Her music success was on a constant rise. She was the first Tejano woman to go and take a Grammy in 1994. In 1995, Selena would pass from this world, by being shot with a gun. 

Selena is known as the Queen of Tejano. 

Lydia Mendoza

Lydia Mendoza played the Tejano, Conjunto form of music, and won great praise, and respect in doing so. She was born on May 31, 1916, in Houston Texas. Lydia is called the mother of Tejano music by many historians, and she certainly seems to deserve the title. 

Lydia was well-versed in playing the guitar and sang her songs in the Spanish language. She performed live for about 6 decades and produced a total of 200 Spanish songs, and at least 50 albums. 

The Natural Endowment for the Arts awarded her a natural heritage fellowship. She entered the Tejano hall of fame in 1984 and entered the Conjunto hall of fame in 1991. 

She stopped singing after she suffered from a stroke in her sixties. 

Lydia Mendoza, a popular female Tejano singer. 


Intocable is a Tejano band from Zapata, Texas. Friends, Ricardo Javier Muñoz and René Orlando Martínez, were the ones to start the band. Intocable was founded in the 1990s and has since gone on to win many accolades and even two Grammys. Intocable has also won at least eight of “Univision’s Premio Lo Nuestro awards”. They also have two Grammy’s under their belt. They got their first Grammy in February of the year 2005, and they won their second Grammy at the 53rd Grammy Awards. 

Intocable held its first concert in Toronto, Canada, in the year 2017. However, the group has a tragic history as well. They have lost two band members, and a manager, in a car accident. 

Suggested Reading – Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival Roundup

Intocable has been one of the most influential groups of Tejano music. 


Tejano music has gone through a lot of phases since the 1800s. It has fought racism, and political unrest, and has come out as the voice of the people. The Hispanic working-class considered Tejano music a representation of their struggles. Even after all the struggles, the singers that have dedicated their entire lives to this genre, and to preserving the music of their history have kept Tejano music alive.