Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. For the week of Aug. 24, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman takes a look at Chelo Silva, the “Queen of Boleros.”
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Saturday 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 bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
Click the player to listen to the podcast:
Chelo Silva was born Consuelo Silva on August 25, 1922, in Brownsville. She began her professional career singing radio jingles and performing a variety of song styles, including rancheras and other forms of Mexican folk music. However, by the 1950s, Silva had come to specialize in a Cuban-based song style known as the bolero. In 1955, she signed with Columbia Records and was soon famous throughout Texas, Mexico and Latin America as “The Queen of Boleros.” In addition to her importance as an artist, Silva was married for a time to noted musician and ethnomusicologist Americo Paredes. Chelo Silva’s highly successful career helped lay the groundwork for future generations of Tejana singers to make it big in the international Spanish-language music market.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll look at a singer who was born in a railroad boxcar but went on to tour with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.