This article is a supplemental part of theMusic of the United States series.
Latin, Tex-Mex and Tejano, Hawaiian,
Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional Mexican forms such as the corrido, and Continental European styles introduced by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th century. In particular, the accordion was adopted by Tejano folk musicians at the turn of the 20th century, and it became a popular instrument for amateur musicians in Texas and Northern Mexico. Small bands known as orquestas, featuring amateur musicians, became a staple at community dances.
Narciso Martinez (1911-1992) gave Tejano accordion playing a new virtuosity in the 1930s, when he adopted the two button row accordion. At the same time, he formed a group with Santiago Almeida, a bajo sexto (twelve string bass guitar) player. Their new musical style, known as conjunto soon became the popular music of the working class Tejano. Flaco Jimenez (1939-), the son an accordionist and grandson of a man who had learned the instrument from a German immigrant, carried on Martinez's tradition of accordion virtuosity and became a fixture on the international World Music scene by the 1980s.
In the 1950s and 1960s, rock and roll and country music made inroads, and electric guitars and drums were added to conjunto combos. Also, performers such as Little Joe added both nuances of jazz and R&B, and a Chicano political consciousness.
In the 1980s, electronic instruments and synthesizers increasingly dominated the sound, and Tejano music increasing appealed to bilingual country and rock fans in the Southwest. In the early 1990s, Selena Quintanilla Perez (1971-1995) and her band Los Dinos infused pop and cumbia (a lilting Colombian dance rhythm) into Tejano music, making the genre popular with non-Mexican Latinos and Latin Americans. In the wake of her murder, Selena's music received attention from a mainstream American audience as well.
At the turn of the 21st century, today's Tejano music, while far more pop-oriented than in its Depression era roots, is one of the most vital regional musical styles in the United States.
The term Tex-Mex is also used in American rock and roll for Tejano-influenced performers such as the Sir Douglas Quintet, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, Louie and the Lovers, The Champs with "Tequila", and the Texas Tornados, featuring Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyer, and Doug Sahm.
Tex-Mex is also a type of Mexican food which originated in Texas. See Tex-Mex cuisine.