Posted to alt.music.polkas by Mike Matousek on 3/7/2007. Used by permission.
There may be some lessons to be learned from the ongoing, growing success of Tejano music.
By the way, for those unfamiliar with the term, Tejano literally means "a Texan of Mexican heritage." The term was applied to the Spaniards who settled what is now the Rio Grande Valley in 1749. Their original music used the flute, guitar and drum to play old melodies from Spain.In the 1850's, Poles, Czechs, and Germans migrated to Mexico and Texas bringing with them the Polka and the Waltz. After the Mexican revolution forced these former Europeans into South Texas, the Tejano musicians were exposed to the 2/4 (polka) and 3/4 (waltz) rhythms around the year 1910. They incorporated these rhythms and the use of the accordion to create their own "conjunto" music around 1920.
Over the years the music evolved as it incorporated new instruments, replaced the flowery Spanish lyrics with more contemporary Tex-Mex vocals, and even embraced Pop, R&B and Rock sounds from the 70's and 80's. By the late 1980's Columbia Records embraced Tejano music as a genuine commercial money-maker and the genre has been growing in recognition ever since, outpacing other major music forms as the Simmons Market Research Study clearly establishes. The cool thing is it still has its charm and is immediately recognized as a form of polka music. The key to its success appears to be its ability to adapt to the tastes of each generation of fans while maintaining its soul.
Historian Martin Leal of Brownsville I.S.D. comments, "Will Tejano
change? Of course it
will! Will it go out of style? No way!" He claims that
Tejano continues to be a culmination of "drinking songs, love songs, sad songs, and old dance songs." He declares "there will
continue to be Tejano music, because Tejano is music of the heart." Sounds
familiar, doesn't it? Perhaps Polka can learn a few things from her successful