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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Beto Villa, Orchestra Innovator
Program #

Linda Fregoso
Beto Villa, Manuel Peña, Mrs. Beto Villa
May 1, 1980

Beto Villa, Orchestra Innovator

Linda Fregoso speaks with famed Chicano musician, Beto Villa, and his wife about his music, and later interviews Manuel Peña about Villa’s legacy. Villa got his start in Falfurrias, Texas and began playing for local dances and Anglo audiences. It was there that he developed his unique orchestral sound and started adding the accordion to his music. He attracted the attention of Armando Marroquin who had just started his own recording company, and Marroquin recorded Villa’s music and distributed it throughout the United States. Throughout his career, Villa played with several musicians who then went on to join famous big bands. Villa’s band was also the first Chicano orchestra to tour the nation, and Villa’s wife describes these early tours.

Fregoso then speaks with Manuel Peña who describes Villa as a trailblazer. Pena explains that Villa was the first to seek an alternative musical style to the conjuntos that were then very popular. Pena says that conjunto music was largely the music of poor and rural Chicanos, but after World War II, a new Mexican-American middle class began to emerge and the orquesta style of music appealed to them. However, because they were never a large market, artists like Villa tried to broaden their appeal by adapting their music. For Villa, this meant adopting the accordion. Peña believes that the combination of orchestra and accordion represents the union of two musical styles and it inspired many of the most successful Chicano musicians who came after Villa.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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