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What is Tejano culture?

Part 1 of the Tejano culture series
Exploring Tejano culture
Selena Quintanilla was important to Tejano culture
Posted at 5:57 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 14:12:23-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Tejano culture permeates the Coastal Bend and spreads out throughout Texas and the world.

"It's to be from Texas and of Mexican decent,” said Amanda Marquez, a professional assistant professor of first-year seminar at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Marquez teaches Mexican-American history at the school, emphasizing to her students about Tejano culture and why it’s so unique.

Her own roots date to the Mexican Americans living in Texas before the U.S. government acquired the state.

"There are many Mexicans who remained in Texas and to maintain that identity, being Mexican and also being Texan, it's a blending of those two things,” she said.

Marquez said Tejano culture has evolved over time as a result of that union.

"Any time you have the blending of Texan culture, Mexican culture, really it's the birth of Tejano culture,” she said.

The Tejano culture is known for its food, arts, music, and musicians like Corpus Christi's very own legend, Selena Quintanilla. Her global impact has encouraged many young people who say they too want to be just like Selena.

That's particularly true for Ms. “Honey” Andrews, a Selena impersonator who is known for her performances as Selena in drag shows across the country. She said she has been studying Selena’s moves and music since she was 9.

"She has always been such an inspirational person and artist and always been a role model of mine,” Andrews said. "So why not bring tribute to her, keep her memory alive by discovering this form of art that we call female impersonation or artist tribute impersonations.”

Andrews, a Tejano herself, said she has been impersonating Selena for 14 years and said the Tejano culture is a mixture of cultures, especially when it comes to the music.

"It's Spanish mixed with a little bit of English with a little bit of pop but with a little bit of rock,” Andrews said.

In an industry that was dominated by men at the time, Selena was a Tejano music icon with 36 Tejano Music Awards.

"She's such a great inspiration as to you as to what do we think about when we hear the word Tejano? We think of Selena,” Andrews said.

Marquez said she thinks back to when she was a teenager when Selena rose to fame.

"For me she represented someone like me, like us, like people in my community,” Marquez said.

For part two of our Tejano series, we'll speak to a local radio host who has dedicated his career to playing Tejano music in the Coastal Bend.