Journalist and photographer Mariaelena Villarreal has joined Tejano Nation as contributing writer and will cover Conjunto and Tejano events in San Antonio and South Texas.
Villarreal is a freelance photographer and journalist, who specializes in documenting the Conjunto and Tejano industry.
“I feel that this genre of music is exciting and I have loved it since I was 14 years old,” said Villarreal. “I have photographed many Tejano and Conjunto artists and bands and I have written many articles on Conjunto organizations and artists.”
“Mariaelena’s passion for capturing the joy of each musician in her photographs and writing is very exciting to see and read,” said John Henry Medina, Digital Managing Editor at Tejano Nation. “She will help TejanoNation.net remain the premiere website for Tejano and Conjunto music and news with fresh, exciting content for fans of the genres from all over the world.”
For the past two years, she has written a monthly Conjunto column in Street Talk Magazine and helps San Antonio radio station KEDA 99.9 FM with advertising and photographing their events.
“Conjunto and Tejano music mean very much to me because it’s a culture of music that at 14 years old I was not accustomed to,” she said. “I was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to San Antonio when I was 14. I had no idea what Tejano or Conjunto music was, I couldn’t speak Spanish and I came here not knowing the culture at all. My mother is Jewish and my father was born in Mexico, so I come from a mixed nationality background and English was only spoken at home. San Antonio and Tejano/Conjunto music gave me a way to learn Spanish and learn about the history behind it and that’s why it’s very important to me to document and photograph whatever I can to preserve this genre of music.”
Villarreal currently studies journalism and digital art at Palo Alto College.
“I also do studio photography from my home for many musicians and up and coming young talent,” she said. “Supporting the new artists, students, and up and coming musicians has become a very big part of my life. I love to see the determination and excitement they feel when a live crowd is cheering for them and supporting their dream.”
She has photographed many great Tejano and Conjunto artists including Shelly Lares, Ram Herrera, Michael Salgado, Flaco and Santiago Jimenez, Gary Hobbs, Stefani Montiel, and La Calma, to name just a few.
“My photographs have been featured in magazines, as album covers, banners, commemorative magazines, and as promotional flyers,” she said. “My style of photography I think is unique because I love close-ups. To see the twinkle in the eye, to see sharp detail of fingers on a Bajo Sexto, to clearly see the emotion in someone’s face is how I would describe my photographs. I am very honored to have my work be used to further this culture of music.”
“I am very grateful to be joining Tejano Nation and would like to thank Mr. John Henry Medina for the opportunity to continue to do what I love on a higher platform, with Tejano Nation,” she added. “I have so much to learn, but I photograph and write from the heart and I have made many friends by doing this.”
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