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Friday, July 13, 2001

Return to our roots
Tejano Music Hall of Fame inducts Selena, acts from '40s and '50s

   Alice-based Tejano Roots stages its Hall of Fame inductions Saturday night at the VFW Hall in Alice. Now in its second year, the organization has reached its goal of bringing a Tejano Music museum and hall of fame ceremony to deep South Texas.
   It was an ambitious undertaking that included locating and raising a building, furnishing it, and collecting artifacts and memorabilia to display. The organization successfully lobbied the Legislature to recognize the city of Alice as the birthplace of Tejano music and designate the museum as the official State of Texas Tejano Music Hall of Fame.
   "For too long conjunto and Tejano Music has been looked at primarily from the entertainment angle," said Manuel Ayala, an avid collector and member of the Tejano Roots Selection Committee. "Our music is also key to our culture."
   Ayala says more people are becoming interested in learning about Tejano music's cultural aspects.
   "There is also more interest in artifacts and old recordings and in honoring the artists of the past," Ayala said. "The Alice museum validates the importance of the music in our lives. It gives artists of the past a home for showcasing their artifacts and a place where important contributions and traditions can be collected and preserved."
   Honoring heavyweights

   Last year's ceremony inducted a roster of heavyweights - names who are on everybody's hall of fame list: Sunny Ozuna; Carlos Guzman; Tony De La Rosa; Laura Canales; Beto Villa; Narciso Martinez; Juan and Armando Hinojosa of Los Fabulosos Cuatro; Armando Lichtenberger Jr.; Amadeo Flores; Juan Sifuentes; Ruben Naranjo; and Armando Marroquin and Paco Betancourt.
   This year's induction list is more of a mixed bag, with well-known names alongside inductees who may be better known on a regional basis. Selena Quintanilla Perez, perhaps the biggest name in contemporary Tejano Music, heads the list.
   Other big names include Isidro Lopez, whose orchestra reigned supreme during the '50s and '60s; Little Joe and brothers Rocky and Johnny, who for many, personify the Tejano sound and who have worked the active circuit since the '50s; composer Johnny Herrera, whose hand has created some of the most enduring songs in Tejano music history; Carmen y Laura, a popular duet from the 1940s; and Eloy and Paulino Bernal of Conjunto Bernal, and vocalists Manuel Solis, ChaCha Jimenez and Ruben Perez, together creating what most consider the most innovative conjunto of all time.
   Recognition deserved

   Other inductees include radio personalities Leopoldo Luna and Armando Pena; record producer and promoter Arnaldo Ramirez, Sr.; Rene Ornelas and Rene Herrera of Rene and Rene; Rodolfo y Lalo; and accordionist Ruben Vela.
   To date, and counting those who will be inducted tomorrow, 36 individuals have been honored. But there are still many whose time has come for recognition. Three important figures immediately come to mind. They are folk musician and Alice native Eligio Escobar, and Falfurrias native Wally Almendarez, whose biography includes stints with the Beto Villa Orchestra, Conjunto Bernal, and at the head of his own conjunto. The third is not a Tejano, but his contributions permeate Tejano music to its very core. It's Jose Alfredo Jimenez.
   Little Joe, Johnny and Rocky Hernandez and Carlos Guzman head a diverse entertainment lineup. Isidro Lopez and his group will perform, as will ChaCha Jimenez and his conjunto, who will perform a tribute to Conjunto Bernal. Other artists in the lineup include Rodolfo y Lalo; Rene-Rene; Rita and Eddie Bernal; Sarah Farias; and Mariachi Cobre. Rudy Trevino of the Tejano Gold Countdown syndicated radio show and Marci Mosqueda of KIII's "The Domingo Show" will co-host.
   General admission tickets go for $25. Corporate tables, which include dinner and meet and greet opportunities with performers and inductees, are still available for $500 per table, or $62.50 per seat. For ticket and other information, call Tejano Roots at (361) 661-1111 or the Corpus Christi ticket agent at 946-6190.


Rene Cabrera can be reached at 886-3741 or by e-mail at

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