Tomorrow's Tejano stars shine today

By Chito de la Torre

The Most Promising Band category is one of the most important of the Tejano Music Awards (TMA). It signals which are the groups we expect will dominate the market in upcoming years.

When Mazz took the award at the first annual TMA in 1981, the group moved on to live up to the title. The same rang true for La Mafia, David Lee Garza Y Los Musicales, and Emilio.

But as the multi-influenced (from Germany to Mexico to Scotland)Tejano music genre mushrooms, new bands are jumping in with both feet making some of the biggest waves in la onda.

Almost all of the groups nominated for Most Promising Band at this year's Tejano Music Awards received multiple nominations. And some of the groups have already leap-frogged way ahead of many of the older mainstays.

The most impressive of these young groups, in terms of TMA nominations, is 13-year-old Jennifer Pena.

Jennifer y Los Jetz racked up a total of eight nominations. In addition to Most Promising Band, Jennifer y Los Jetz were also nominated for Song of the year (for the sock-hopping beat of "Ven A Mi"), Tejano Crossover (for "Me Piden"), Female Vocalist of the Year, Female Entertainer of the Year, Showband of the Year, and Album of the Year in both the Orquestra/Group and Overall categories.

Under contract with Q Productions (the Quintanilla family) and distributed by EMI Latin, Jennifer's debut CD titled "Dulzura" is on its way to double platinum. This is at a time when many of the most widely recognized Tejano artists are only starting to earn gold records. FYI: an artist must sell 50,000 units of a record to reach gold status and 100,000 units to obtain a platinum record.

Another multi-nominated artist is Juan P. Moreno. This Tejano artist now resides in Texas, but is originally form Idaho. He was nominated for seven TMAs: Most Promising Band, Song of the Year (Dichoso Soy), Male Entertainer, Vocal Duo (with Jay Perez), Album Conjunto Progressive (for Dichoso Soy),Showband of the Year along with his group "The Renegades, and Album of the Year Overall.

There are four Album of the Year categories at the TMA. Before it becomes too confusing, here's a little explanation of the differences. Tejano music isn't just one style of music. Its a mix of many. You'll find elements of rock and roll, salsa, R & B, and of course Norteno.

Album of the Year Orquestra/Group is intended for groups that have more of a "pop" style. These groups usually have more than five members, and rely heavily on synthesizers, samplers, and other electronic equipment.

Album of the Year Conjunto Traditional is for groups based as the name indicates on the conjunto style. That means that they are heavy into accordion, include a bajo sexto (or 12-string guitar), a drummer and a bass (in years passed that meant a tololoche, or upright bass, instead of the electric one we're used to seeing today).

Very similar to Conjunto Traditional is Album of the Year Conjunto Progressive. The groups falling under this category also include a lot of accordion and maybe even bajo sexto, but they also include horns, like trumpets, and saxes, as well as electronic equipment.

Finally, the Album of the Year Overall category is a free for all in which all of the different Tejano styles compete against each other.

Like Jennifer y los Jetz, and Juan P. Moreno, Eddie Gonzalez y Grupo Vida is also nominated for two of the Album of the Year Categories: Conjunto Progressive and Overall. But he is also nominated for Most Promising Band, Song of the Year ("El Disgusto," originally done by Ramon Ayala), Male Entertainer of the Year and Showband of the Year. Eddie, who records for Sony Discos, pulled in a total of six nominations.

There are four groups nominated for Most Promising Band that each earned four nominations to the 17th annual TMA to be held on Saturday, March 1, 1997, right here in San Antonio's Alamodome. Bobby Pulido, Elida y Avante, Letty Guval y Xpresso and Annette y Axxion. Of these, two are already considered headliners.

Bobby Pulido's debut CD, "Desvelado" outpaced any of the albums that his father, Roberto Pulido (Y Los Clasicos) ever released. Desvelado almost instantly went gold and then stepped up to platinum within a blink. While it was releases to early to be considered for nomination this year, "Desvelado" got Bobby noticed enough to win him a nomination for Most Promising Band, Male Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Vocal Duo of the Year (with his dad, Roberto).

Elida Y Avante is another young group that is already demanding major attention. Their self-titled debut CD is still selling well in large part to the mega-hit "Luna Llena", and their much awaited second CD "Algo Entero" is charting on both Billboard and Radio Y Musica. Elida y Avante are up for Most Promising Band, Female Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist, and Instrumental of the Year (for Narciso Martinez).

Also earning four nominations are Annette y Axxion: Most Promising Band, Song of the Year ("Dejame Vivir"), Female Entertainer of the Year, and Tejano Country of the Year ("Someone's Blue").

Letty Guval y Xpresso rounds is the fourth group that earned four nominations: Most Promising Band, Female Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, and Tejano Crossover ("Te Amare A Escondidas").

This will be the last year the Rodeo is able to compete in the Most Promising band category. They have already released their third album ("Nuestro Tiempo") making them ineligible for the Most Promising Band category next year. But they still have a chance this year. The other two categories they are vying in are: Album of the Year Conjunto Progressive ("Nuestro Tiempo"), Instrumental ("Bailando Con Rodeo").

Stefani, like Rodeo earned three nominations this year and will also not be eligible for another shot at Most Promising Band of the Year because she has already released three albums as well. The other two categories she will compete in this year are: Female Entertainer, and Female Vocalist of the Year.

The last three of the 12 groups up for Most Promising Band are in the minority. They all received the one nomination. They are Brando (headed by Brando Mireles formerly of Mazz), Escalofrio (who's lead singers also have a Mazz connection. They are Joe Lopez's nephews) and Rhonda Lee.

Here's more information on TMA XVII

--30-- (printed with permission)