The Musical Styles of San Antonio

Founded by Spanish explorers early in the 18th century, San Antonio rests just 150 miles northwest of the Rio Grande, the border between Mexico and the U.S. It is a city being pulled in two cultural directions. The cultural homeland of the Tejanos (Mexican Americans of Spanish origin), San Antonio is both a former capital city of northern Mexico and a major metropolis of southwest America. The music there reflects this dual identity well, combining traditional Mexican instrumentation and style with the country, rock, and even jazz and pop of American radio.

San Antonio's cultural segregation also led to the development of a distinct West Side sound, which was a hybrid born out of traditional Mexican influences on the mainstream American music popular of the east side of town.

Historically, San Antonio's Mexican American population was confined to the city's lower class west side. From here rose two successive new genres of Latino music: the conjunto and, later, Tejano styles. Rooted in the working-class experience of the city's Mexican Americans, these genres gained popularity with Latinos outside of Texas. It became the music, largely, of the immigrant laborers of the southwest.

Famous Latino artists like Little Joe y La Familia, Freddie Fender, Mando & the Chili Peppers, Sunny & the Sunliners, The Royal Jesters, Charlie & the Jives, Eva Ybarra, and Flaco Jiménez all came out of San Antonio's fertile music scene. Discover more about some of the many distinct musical styles of San Antonio and learn why this city is one of the most important for Latino music in America.