tejano music
Emilio Navaira and Selena won top awards at the 1993 Tejano Music Awards. EN photo Bob Owen

5 Legendary Tejano Artists Music Lovers Should Know About

Tejano music was heavily influenced by other cultures and its sound has been the musical backbone of Texas and its culture since the early 20th century.

Tejano, which translates to Texan in Spanish, is a popular music genre fusing together the music of Mexican, European and American influences.

Its birthplace takes place during the mid-20th century as many Mexican-Americans began to populate Central and Southern Texas. With them they brought along their own kind of music that blended and adopted with other musical influences other cultures had to offer in the U.S.

This Tex-Mex type of music started from deep origins and has evolved over the course of time. Starting with the introduction of waltz, polka and other popular forms of music by the Europeans, early Texans or Tejanos adopted the European music as they began to connect it with the flute, guitar and drums.

Later, with the migration of Germans, Poles and Czechs, Tejano music gained a major component present in the typical Tejano band: the accordion. With the connection of all these musical influences, Tejano music began to explode all over Texas.

Mexicans took their traditional songs sung in the forms of corridos and mariachi, and blended them with European and U.S. influences. This type of music genre only helped create some of Texas’ best performing musicians and helped shape the way Texas culture is today.

These musicians have also had a great influence on the Hispanic population of Texas and even those who don’t identify with Spanish origin. However, Tejano music is still an underlying music genre that many have yet to discover.

In that case, the following list highlights some of Texas’ most popular Tejano stars that any person wanting to discover the music can begin to check out.


Probably the most famous Tejano artist who ever lived is Selena Quintanilla Perez. She and her band, Los Dinos, dominated the Tejano music charts from the early ’80s and ’90s as they blended pop music with the ever-growing Tejano music.

Many know Selena today for her eye-catching outfits, spot-on makeup, smooth dance moves and fun personality. However, before her passing in 1995, Selena helped Tejano music get national attention as she was the first female Tejano star to win a Grammy.

It was her music that helped Tejano music skyrocket to a national level and gain popularity throughout the United States and Latin America. She is still popular today as her legacy continues to live on through her music, fashion, family members and fans.


Grupo Mazz is a Tejano band formed by Joe Lopez and later collaborated with Jimmy Gonzalez in the ’70s. Their music is distinct as it offered an innovative sound to Tejano music with the addition of the synthesizer, an electronic musical instrument that can mimic instruments like the piano, hammond organ, flute, vocals etc.

The use of synthesizers in their music helped them to skyrocket in popularity throughout Texas and now their music can be easily recognized on every radio station, family gathering, wedding or quinceañera as traditional Tejano music.

Mazz’s music is what current Tejano artists would call old school as their music has influenced some of Tejano’s top bands today. Their music has lived on from generation to generation and can still be heard on the radio today.

La Mafia


La Mafia is another old school Tejano band whose popularity has won them more than just a few Grammy awards. This four-time Grammy award winning group was started in Houston, Texas and began touring across Texas, Mexico and Latin America during the ’80s.

Their music offers an original style that has survived the various changes that have occurred in the Tejano music industry. Since the ’80s, La Mafia was able to create top charting records with their album, “Estas Tocando Fuego,” which sold millions and was released during 1991. Since their start, they have been a powerhouse in multiple arenas through the last couple of decades.

Emilio Navaira


As a San Antonio native, Emilio Navaira is another powerhouse that topped the Tejano music industry. He is known as one of the few Tejano artists to have significant success in both the United States and Mexico, and was called the Garth Brooks of Tejano.

His fusion in Tejano and Country music helped him develop a persona that mimicked that of Selena’s mix of Pop and Tejano music. This mix of genres gave him the male title of being one of the most prominent artists to help popularize Tejano music in the late 20th century.

With his passing in 2016, a legacy was also left behind that is still cherished today by family, friends and fans. You can still hear his music on the radio today as the music created by Navaira is timeless for those that hear it.

Ramón Ayala

Ramón Covarrubias Garza, also known by his stage name as Ramón Ayala, is a legendary Tejano and Mexican musician and is one of the most recognized and best-selling artists in the genre. He is most known for his norteño and conjunto music and has broken many sales records with over 100 albums released since his debut in the ’60s.

Ayala is also known as the King of Accordion and rightfully so, as the majority of his music heavily revolves around tunes made with that instrument. This aspect of his music has made him a powerhouse that none can compare with and a fan favorite in the Tejano music industry.

His music has withstood the test of time as his 1960 hits are just as popular as his music most recently released in the past decade. Ramon Ayala still records and releases new music today and can be heard on most Tejano stations.

Briana Perez, University of Texas at San Antonio

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Briana Perez

University of Texas at San Antonio
English/Professional Writing

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