From David Lee, Emilio, Selena to decline: We examine rise, fall, future of Tejano music

KSAT News at 9 looks at history, golden era, decline, cultural impact of genre

Is Tejano music still relevant? KSAT News at Nine did an extensive look at the history, rise and fall, and cultural impact of the music genre across San Antonio and South Texas. Click here to check out our stories on the Golden Era, decline and future of Tejano!
Is Tejano music still relevant? KSAT News at Nine did an extensive look at the history, rise and fall, and cultural impact of the music genre across San Antonio and South Texas. Click here to check out our stories on the Golden Era, decline and future of Tejano!

SAN ANTONIO – Tejano music is familiar to most San Antonio families. Whether at a dance hall, a wedding or even just a backyard barbecue, if you grew up in South Texas, you likely have a memory of dancing with aunts and uncles to the sounds of accordions and synthesizers. But is Tejano music still relevant?

In April, 107.5 FM stopped broadcasting KXTN, a station known for playing the genre.

Even before that, there were signs of a decline. In 2011, Tejano was one of 31 categories eliminated at the Grammy Awards.

These events were among the reasons KSAT’s RJ Marquez and the KSAT News at 9 team wanted to take a closer look at the past, present and future of Tejano music.

History of Tejano music and introduction of accordion

We started at the beginning. Ramon Hernandez is an archivist and Latin musicologist.

He's written music columns for different publications, including the San Antonio Express-News. When it comes to music created by Mexican Americans, he has a wealth of knowledge.

We interviewed him and sifted through his archives to help us understand how the roots of Tejano can be traced back to the 1910s, when German Americans introduced Mexican Americans to the accordion.

KSAT News at Nine looks at the early history of Tejano music and the introduction of the accordion to the genre.
KSAT News at Nine looks at the early history of Tejano music and the introduction of the accordion to the genre.

Anatomy of a Tejano song

Because Tejano music was so heavily influenced by other musical genres and pop culture, we wanted to take a closer look at what makes a Tejano song.

To learn a little bit more, we sat down with local musician Alvaro Del Norte and members of a local band, The 501s.

What goes into creating that unique Tejano music sound? We look into the anatomy of a Tejano song.
What goes into creating that unique Tejano music sound? We look into the anatomy of a Tejano song.

Golden Age and Tejano Onda

Any discussion about Tejano music must include what’s been called the Golden Age of the genre.

The early '80s to mid-'90s were a special moment for Tejano music in San Antonio and South Texas.

Most San Antonians said there was no better time for the genre.

We spoke to Hector Saldana, a former San Antonio Express-News music columnist and current Texas Music Collection Curator at The Wittliff Collections at Texas State, and Johnny Ramirez, a former deejay at KXTN, about the Tejano Onda, which translated to English, means the Texas Wave.

KSAT News at Nine takes a look back at Tejano's Golden Era.
KSAT News at Nine takes a look back at Tejano's Golden Era.

Decline in popularity

For the past decade or so, there has been a lot written and said about the decline of Tejano music.

Is the music genre dead? Certainly not when you speak to musicians still performing to packed venues.

But it has not reached the heights of popularity it had during the Golden Age. We examined what happened.

What happened to Tejano music after its golden age in the mid-'90s. KSAT News at Nine examines the decline in popularity of the music genre.
What happened to Tejano music after its golden age in the mid-'90s. KSAT News at Nine examines the decline in popularity of the music genre.

Cultural impact and future of Tejano music

Where does Tejano music go from here? We've heard about its most popular days and some decline.

But true to its nature, the music has stood the test of time, going back nearly a century.

The roots of Tejano run deep in South Texas. We looked at the cultural impact the music has had in San Antonio.

KSAT News at Nine looks at the cultural impact of Tejano music in San Antonio and South Texas.
KSAT News at Nine looks at the cultural impact of Tejano music in San Antonio and South Texas.

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.

Lexi Salazar produces KSAT Explains, a weekly, in-depth streaming show that digs into the most important issues facing San Antonio. She previously produced the News at 9, San Antonio's first streaming-only news program.