Tejano music grows across media

By Chito de la Torre
    Evolution has always been Tejano music's  secret to success..  As most
everybody knows, Tejano music grew out of Conjunto music.  And Conjunto was
already a hybrid itself, having incorporated musical styles mostly from the
Mexican, but also from German, and Irish among others.  Evolution is also what
will keep Tejano a prolific musical breed with a continually expanding base. 
But as I discovered, it is not just an evolution of the music, but of the
media itself that is already catapulting Tejano music across the country and
the globe.
    "It [Tejano music]will be shifting with a lot of diversification," says Rudy
Trevino, executive Director of the Texas Talent Musician's Association, the
organizers of the Tejano Music Awards.  According to Trevino, Tejano music is
currently incorporating other musical styles into its format.  "Country is
influencing Tejano music. It's also getting a lot of influence from the pop
area."  Many examples exist of Tejano artists injecting their sound with
Country:  Emilio (EMI Latin), Shelly Lares (Sony Discos), and Joel Nava
(Arista Texas) are only a few.  Artists that have successfully synthesized pop
into their style include La Mafia (Sony Discos), and Selena (EMI Latin). 
Currently, according to Trevino, Tejano music is seeing a big influence from
outside the US, namely Mexico.
    "Right now, Regional Tejano is coming on very strong," said Trevino
explaining that Regional Tejano is a mixture of Tejano Music and Norteno
music.  Artists like Michael Salgado (Joey International) and Intocable (EMI
Latin) were included into this past Tejano Music Awards even though they have
a very Norteno flair to them.  Bob Olivo, Latin buyer for Southwest Wholesale,
the Houston based distributor, agrees wit h Trevino on the strong influence
Norteno music is having on the Tejano Market.
    "Overall, it [Tejano music] is doing good, and it will continue to grow, but
they will have to follow the wave," says Olivo, who's been with Southwest
Wholesale for six years.  The wave he refers to is Norteno.  "I think that the
bigger the Norteno wave gets, it will carry the Tejano' over to California and
other markets where they have not been able to break."  Olivo added that as
these Norteno oriented Tejano groups establish themselves in markets that have
not traditionally formatted Tejano music, Program Directors will say to
themselves, "well let's see what other Tejanos have to offer."
    Olivo, like Trevino, referred to groups like Michael Salgado and Intocable,
and also included La Tropa F among those groups who's Norteno influence is
unmistakable, but he also added that to follow the wave, artists do not have
to be so straight forward about their approach to Norteno music.  "You got the
new Bobby Pulido who's not straight Norteno but has a Norteno flavor.  Once
these guys like Michael and Tropa open the doors, they will allow the Bobby
Pulidos to get. in."  Pulido (EMI Latin) recently released his debut CD and is
on the verge of a Platinum album.
    Tejano music has definitely expanded.  But now that Tejano stations are tops
in ratings in Texas cities like San Antonio, and Harlingen, does that mean
that Tejano has maxed out?  "I don't think so!," was the answer I kept
    Bob Prado, Program Director for San Antonio's number one rated radio station,
KXTN Tejano 107 FM, believes, as many others do, that Tejano music is already
experiencing another explosive growth spurt.   Tichenor Media Systems is
currently readying to launch a Tejano station in Houston, Texas. But more
importantly, they are also growing the market horizontally taking Tejano music
form radio to television.  As Prado puts it, "Tejano is the wave of the
future," claims Prado. 
    The ABC Radio Network is developing a new syndicated Tejano countdown show. 
Acording to Rudy Trevino (not the Rudy Trevino of the Tejano Music Awards),
the producers of the "American Gold" radio show that counts down the country's
top hits has started work on "Tejano Gold."  
    "Tejano Gold" will feature the top 25 Tejano tunes from across the country. 
To make sure its countdown is accurate, they will not only rely on Billboard
charts, but also the charts from Radio y Musica, the Bible of Spanish language
    The Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA), who's job it is to promote
Tejano music, according to Rudy R. Trevino, is continuing to expand it's
geographic base in the traditional way, concerts and performances, but also
through the media.
    Currently the TTMA is distributing a radio show titled "Tejano En Vivo",
that, as the title indicates, will include recordings of live performances by
Tejano artists.  "We started out targeting 50 markets," began Trevino.  ""We
already have 60 markets, Florida, North Dakota, Michigan, and this has not
been a big promotion.  We just sent out letters of inquire."
    Not only is the TTMA expanding the base of Tejano music through radio
programming, they are also doing it through special performances and even
television.  This June (22 & 23), TTMA puts on it's second Tejano Showcase in
Las Vegas.  Like last year it will include a concert by a variety of Tejano's
top performers.  But unlike last year, they have added a super dance that will
also feature some of la onda's biggest names.  Those performances will not
only be aired nationwide via the "Tejano En Vivo" show, but also through
    And it's television where Tejano will apparently again explode.
    Waldo Cedillo of San Antonio's Univision affiliate (KWEX) and coordinator of
the Pura Vida Awards Show, says this about Spanish language television:  "They
can't get enough Tejano.  Four years ago you would have never seen a Tejano
act on the network, but now your got people like David Lee Garza performing
two numbers on Sabado Gigante."  As a matter of fact, This year's Pura Vida
Awards will be televisied twice.  Once on the night of the event (Tuesday,
June 4) through Pay-per View in Texas and California, and agian on the Texas
Unvision affiliates.
    In July, Tichenor Media Systems will kick off an MTV-style network that
focuses greatly on Tejano music.  Initial market research indicated that the
network could beat out not only other music channels, but other networks with
traditional programming as well.
    What everyone also seems to agree on is that as Tejano music physically
grows, it must also mature.
    "I think we're at the point where the industry needs to get more
professional," said Bob Prado.  Our music needs to be as good as Garth Brooks,
and Boys II Men.  That's the caliber of music I program against," said Prado. 
According to Prado, it's that mature, general market approach to radio that
has taken them to the top.  Trevino echoed the sentiment.  "With the maturity
phase of Tejano music, the time has come to widen the base and explore new
markets," said Trevino.  "We haven't even begun to scratch the surface.  There
is still the Nashville crowd and the Monterrey crowd that we haven't even
    There is, however, a double-edged sword that Tejano music has had to live
with, it's name.  Although the term "Tejano" sits well with the artists and
the Texas markets, people outside of Texas resist it.  "What does it mean,"
they ask.  "Is it only people from Texas that can perform Tejano music, or is
it just a particular style?"  The answer to the first question is no.  There
is after all the Midwest Tejano Music Awards that takes place as the name
implies in the Midwestern United States, honoring groups from that region. 
The second half of that question is tougher to answer, but also the reason
that Tejano music has survived.  
    Tejano is not necessarily a particular style.  It includes Cumbias,
Rancheras, Norteno, Conjunto, and Orquestral.  And because it is so
diversified, it can expand into any one of those areas as tastes change. 
Tejano is a constantly evolving music that will be with us form many years to
--30-- (printed with permission)