The Mexican and Latino(x) community has a large part to play in country music, with musicians who've made a profound impact on the genre, such as Rick Treviño, Freddy Fender, Linda Rondstadt and Johnny Rodriguez. Presently, these artists have inspired a whole new class of Mexican and Latino(x) artists, whose range and variety have made it clear that the torch left behind by these great icons is moving forward in new ways. The following artists and groups exemplify the legacy of nuestra comunidad ( our community) in country music.
Laura Denise y Los Brillantes
Blending country and Norteño music, Laura Denise, who hails from Monterrey NL, Mexico, started her career under the tutelage of Mexican Regional icon Ramon Ayala. Over the years her career has showcased her own brand of country Americana that honors her roots and highlights the international influence and power of country.
Born in Chihuahua Mexico and currently living in the U.S., Navarro is part of a Spanish country music legacy. His father Jorge Navarro and other relatives make up the Latin Grammy winning group Caballo Dorado, who gained widespread acclaim with their smash hit Spanish rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus' hit "Achy Breaky Heart" ("No Rompas Mi Corazón"). Navarro carries the legacy of his family's country music impact, with his own solo career that has allowed him to tour nationally and continue to grow as a rising star on the scene.
The Last Bandoleros
The San Antonio, Texas natives have gained notoriety, not only for their blend of "Tex-Flex," which combines their Tejano music familial roots with country and rock/pop, but also through the support of mainstream artists such as Sting, The Mavericks and Los Lobos and the band members' (Diego & Emilio Navaira IV) late father, Tejano and country crossover artist Emilio Navaira. This support from some of the biggest names in country and rock has given them the platform to usher in a new era of Tex Mex sounds into country and Americana music
Kat & Alex
The Puerto Rican and Cuban duo from Nashville, who gained national acclaim through their run on the 2020 cycle of American Idol, have now become a key player in the country music scene. Whether it be through their videos on rotation on CMT or their recent performances at CMA Fest and debut at the Grand Ole Opry, it's clear that the duo are here to stay. Prior to signing with Sony Music Nashville, they garnered viral acclaim on TikTok with their Spanish translated rendition of country standards such as "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw and George Strait's "How Bout Them Cowgirls," just to name a few. Their recently released bilingual EP is a testament to the international power of bilingual country music.
Hailing from South Texas, Medrano's music is a one-of-a-kind sound that refuses to stay perfectly within the confines of country or Tex Mex Music. She entered the scene last year, with her bilingual country rendition of "Crying" by Roy Orbison. Veronique has spent her career celebrating her bordertown upbringing with songs such as "Wasted Days," "The "Tamale Man" and "Crying/Llorando." Medrano's command of her dual identity as a Mexican American and Spanish, English and bilingual lyrics make her a force as both an artist and songwriter.
Taking back Miami, Arriaga is proudly showcasing his Cuban/Latino upbringing with songs like "Country Side" and "Cold in Miami." On top of his prowess as a songwriter, Arriaga has garnered attention — not just musically, but also through his unconventional approach to the music business with the implementation of NFTs in his music releases. This has given him a unique perspective and independence in financing his country music career in a way no one else has currently been able to achieve on as big of a financial scale as he's managed to achieve.
Since being catapulted into the spotlight with her run on Season 12 of NBC's The Voice, Valerie Ponzio has made it her mission to shatter every precedent set for Latin artists in the world of country music. Hailing from El Paso, Texas, Valerie went to Nashville and in turn became one of the leading pioneers for a new wave of inclusivity in the Nashville country music space. Ponzio was recently inducted into the inaugural class of CMT and mtheory's Equal Access program. Her songs "Just a Border Town" and EP Frontera are her way of bringing a little bit of El Paso to Music Row.
Puro Yeehaw abounds with Mecca, a TikTok rap/country artist hailing from Dallas, Texas. With over 20 years in the hip-hop/rap market, he used his experiences performing alongside Chris Perez, Lil Wayne and Bone Thugs N Harmony to influence his unique take on country music. The TikTok and Youtube success of his recent single"Beer Drinking SOB" has started his upward influence of this sound.
Below, enjoy almost two hours of artists and groups who exemplify the legacy of country music for Hispanic Heritage Month.
READ MORE: Freddy Fender Made History and Inspired a Generation. Why Isn't He in the Country Music Hall of Fame?
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