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, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembers a musician who straddled both political and cultural borders.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and 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.
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Cornelio Reyna was born in Natillas, Coahuila, Mexico, on Sept. 16, 1940. Reyna was a teenager when he began singing and playing the bajo sexto at local dances. In 1961, he teamed up with a young accordion player named Ramón Ayala. Together they formed Los Relámpagos del Norte, which became one of the most popular and influential norteño bands to perform along the Texas-Mexican border. By blending together norteño music from Northern Mexico with the conjunto style from South Texas, Cornelio Reyna and Ramón Ayala helped redefine Spanish-language music on both sides of the border.