There have been over 1,000+ women who have affected the Tejano and Conjunto music industry since its inception.
Tejano and Conjunto music started as a seed, planted in the farmlands of Southern Texas, and while at first it was predominately sung by men; women have broken out in every generation and broken societal gender roles through not only their music but their presence and their active role within their communities.
At the start, women were seen as an adornment or background vocalist to a male lead group. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the industry began to see women take the lead, some of the iconic females to break out during this time were: Lydia Mendoza, Carmen y Laura, Eva Garza, and Chelo Silva. Many of these women garnered acclaim not only in the U.S border region, but also in Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, and South America. These female artists would play to as many as 20,000 fans at a time.
But despite this great leap, women would teeter the line of social norms, as many were expected to retire from the stage once they married to raise a family. Lydia Mendoza, Carmen y Laura, Eva Garza, and Chelo Silva were an exception to this rule, as they continued their work even after marrying and having children.
It would be 40 years before women would aggressively strike out again, as solo acts. In the 1970s and 80s women like Laura Canales, Elsa Garcia, Lisa Lopez, and many more females would strike out and create a wide path that would usher in what many call the GOLDEN AGE of Tejano (1990-2000’s) that saw great women like Selena Quintanilla-Perez, Shelly Lares, Stefani Montiel, Elida Reyna, Jennifer Pena, Stephanie Lynn and many more make their mark on the every expanding and flourishing market that we have today.
So for International Women’s Day, we ask you to join us in celebrating the past, present, and future of Tejano and Conjunto music. May we continue to honor and uplift each woman and girl in our industry, share their stories and rise further together.
LISTEN: Women of Tejano Playlist