Gabriel Zavala sounds off on Facebook about his style of Tejano music

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Thomas J Henry


Facebook / Gabriel Zavala

Award winning hitmaker Gabriel Zavala took to Facebook on Friday to talk about his sound in the Tejano music industry.

Here’s what the producer posted on his official Facebook page.

“Yo Tejano Fans… I grew up a Tejano Fan. I grew up in Jacksonville, TX. I wasn’t raised in a Tejano City…. so I was raised on La Sombra, La Mafia, La fiebre and all the bands of that era… I never knew Mazz, Emilio, DLG… etc… so I went from those pop Tejano bands… to pop… I’m sorry if some people don’t think my music is Tejano… but trust Tejano DNA is in every one of my productions… so please take it easy if you as a Tejano fan don’t understand my music… just trust my heart is all Tejano!!! I’m just trying to bring my own sound to the industry… Puro Respeto a los Mero Meros!”

One person replied, “Dude you’re not Tejano.”

Zavala replied back, “If I had nickel every time I heard that!!!”


So, the question is what is considered Tejano music? Well, Wikipedia defines Tejano music as “various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Mexican-American populations of Central and Southern Texas.”  The keywords here are “various forms” and “popular.” By this definition, Zavala’s music is Tejano.

Zavala currently has four songs he produced on the Latin Groove International Top 20, including the summer smash hit “Mamacita” from Alfredo Y Tortilla Factory featuring Zavala, Stefani Montiel’s latest hit “Quien Quiere Shots?”, “Me Fascinas” from Jimencio and “Se Fue Mi Amor” from Angel Gonzalez Y Vimana.

We here at TejanoNation believe Tejano is not just music, but a culture.  There are different types of Tejano music, from the polkas and cumbias, the orchestra brass sound, to the synthesizer sounds and now with the sound infused with hip hop, R&B and Reggaeton .  It’s all Tejano.  Music evolves.

Most believe Tejano’s heyday was in the 1990’s, but you can’t compare the sound of Tejano from then to now. Look at the sound of today’s Pop music hits compared to the 1990’s, or the sound of today’s Country hits with the 1990’s.  Even today’s Hip Hop hits are different than the 1990’s.  Music evolves.

Of course, all genres have their classics.  But, they all have a new sound that resonates with today’s rising talent and Gabriel Zavala is the one of the hitmakers creating the future of Tejano.

What do you think? Leave a comment in the section in the below.

About Romeo (1317 Articles)
Romeo is media professional with over 20 years of experience in radio and digital media. He is the Managing Editor for, the premiere website for Tejano music, news and entertainment and oversees programming for Q99.5 in San Angelo, Texas.

4 Comments on Gabriel Zavala sounds off on Facebook about his style of Tejano music

  1. Piper LeMoine // August 8, 2015 at 3:37 pm // Reply

    The Wikipedia definition above is way too broad to be meaningful. Using that logic, Los Lonely Boys are Tejano. Girl in a Coma is Tejano. Any number of Mexican-American Texas artists who would normally be considered Latin Rock would be considered Tejano. Texas Freestyle artists would be Tejano, Banda artists, etc.

    As someone who didn’t grow up with this music (I listened to no Spanish music whatsoever), I had to learn to identify it when I heard it. I had to learn to distinguish it musically from other genres and to not sound like an idiot with my Tejano-loving friends.

    Here’s my definition: “A musical genre that originated in Texas that fuses together traditional Mexican folk music with a variety of contemporary American musical styles with Spanish lyrics, reflecting the biculturalism of the majority of the audience and performers.”

    Naturally, there’s a continuum, and there’s one for each of the variety of flavors of Tejano music. With Orquesta, there was a fine line between Big Band and classic Jazz. With a lot of contemporary Tejano, there tends to be a fine line between Tejano and Latin Hip-Hop, and that line is usually when the music ceases to be a cumbia and sounds more like club music.

    Generally speaking, my criteria usually include, but are not limited to:
    1) Can you partner dance (partner dance here meaning waltz, ranchera, polka, cumbia, etc.) to it on a dancefloor? Does it need a dancefloor? If you can’t and it doesn’t, then it likely borrows more from the genre it’s fused with (country excepted).
    2) Are the lyrics in Spanish? If they’re not, then the music needs to lean more to the traditional Mexican sound to be considered Tejano.
    3) Is there an accordion, a synthesizer, or brass? If not, then the music needs to have Spanish lyrics, and you need to be able to partner dance to it. Example: La Movida was one of the first guitar-driven Tejano bands, but it undeniably has those two necessary qualities.
    4) Is there a tuba or a timpani? If there is, it’s more than likely Banda.
    5) Do the artists refer to themselves as Tejano artists? If no, then they are not Tejano artists.

    For me, if an artist sticks to these at least 2/3 the time, I’ll consider them Tejano. Otherwise, they’re Latin Pop, Rock, R&B, Blues, etc., with a Tejano flavor. I don’t totally discount their attachment to Tejano, but I wouldn’t promote their show as a Tejano dance and have people show up ready to dance Tejano and end up seeing a Hip-Hop show. And I do recognize its evolution and inclusion of new musical styles. It’s always been that way.

    There’s nothing wrong with branching out musically. Legends like Alfonso Ramos, Sunny Ozuna, and Little Joe, etc. started doing that way, way back in the 60s, periodically adding a couple English doo-wop songs or Sinatra-style standards to each album. And they still do that. The Latin Breed and Tortilla Factory are famous for being deeply rooted in jazz and periodically venturing off into that universe on their albums and on-stage. However, at the end of the day, their music had the dance floor beat and the Spanish lyrics to bring it home.

    There’s nothing wrong with defining a genre and saying who fits the definition and who doesn’t. The Grammys do it all the time. Blues, Zydeco, Bluegrass, etc., are all comparable to Tejano in that regard. If anything, it strengthens the brand and trains people to recognize it when they hear it. “This is Tejano and this isn’t” is pretty actually pretty helpful for those unfamiliar with the genre. Otherwise, it gets lost in the all-encompassing “Latin” category, which does absolutely nothing for the future of Tejano, especially when Tejano has so little media support.

    It doesn’t mean that if they don’t fit, their music is bad or that they’re not talented. It means that the musical qualities of their music are inconsistent with the general criteria of a genre. That’s it. It’s not personal. I don’t know Zavala. I have nothing against him. From what I’ve heard, he’s a talented artist/producer and I have no doubt that he loves Tejano music and Tejano culture.

    Thanks for reading.


  2. Just curious how he’s gonna know La Mafia and not Mazz?? Those two bands went head to head back in the …couldn’t hear la mafia without hearing mazz …js


  3. Okay, so I go to Latin Groove Music Facebook Page and it states: “the founding members of this genre….announce the birth of Latin Groove music as a new Latin music genre. They are Stefani Montiel, Zavala, Ricky Valenz, etc…” And this article says: “Zavala currently has four songs he produced on the Latin Groove International Top 20.” So he essentially has 4 Songs on a Top 20 List of a Music Category of which he is listed as a founding Member… Hmm… Then this article quotes Wikipedia as proof that this newly founded type of music falls within the realm of the vague definition of Tejano. So Yes, I buy it… Gabriel Zavala is one of the hit makers creating the future of Tejano as defined by the internet, whose interpretation is open enough to include the newly founded genre of music, Latin Groove, of which Zavala, is a Founding Member. Because He, Zavala, has not 1, 2, or three, but 4 songs he produced on the International Top 20 of a Music Genre he founded with his wife and other likeminded musicians. More artists should to do this, you know, get together with like-minded individuals, help found a new genre of music and then see their unfeathered ascension in the Music Genres that they helped “found.” IJS…. anyone taking bets on how long it will take someone to change the Latin Groove Facebook information… anyone? anyone?


  4. José Rosario // August 11, 2015 at 11:51 pm // Reply

    Very well written article. Agree 100%. At one point the waltz was scandalous and indecent, now it includes some of the classics. Your summary of the evolution of music is right on point. Congrats on a credible and intelligent publication. Best wishes.


2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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