Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a man who helped document the rich history of Texas-Mexican border ballads.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
Américo Paredes was born on Sept. 3, 1915, in Brownsville, Texas. As a musician and journalist, Paredes developed an early interest in the corridos, or Spanish-language ballads, that were a vital part of the musical culture along the U.S.-Mexican border. After serving in World War II, Paredes earned a doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing his research on the tradition of storytelling through border ballads. Because of his work, Paredes brought to public attention such popular corridos as “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” which reflected the Tejano perspective on Anglo-Hispanic relations in South Texas.
In 1958, Américo Paredes published the book With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero. This groundbreaking work helped inspire a whole new generation of scholars to examine Mexican-American history and culture in South Texas.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet Galveston’s “Walrus of Love.”