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Little Joe


Born in Temple, Texas in 1940, Little Joe is, along with his predecessor Beto Villa, the most recognized figure in the orquesta tejana tradition, conjunto's sister style. Like the conjunto, the orquesta tejana is laden with historical significance; it was long the musical signature of upwardly-mobile tejanos who considered themselves above conjunto music, and who longed for a style that would reflect their biculturalism. Disdainful of conjunto because of its connection with what they perceived to be a backward, low-class, Mexican way of life, these tejanos sought a musical style that would both appeal to their increasing Americanization and their romanticized attachment to their Mexican roots. Beto Villa invented the style, injecting the orquesta with a folksy "ranchero" ("country") element, thus satisfying the tejanos' bicultural nature: he could play both ranchero and what was called "jaitón," or "high class." Twenty years later, Little Joe y la Familia took the Villa style and brilliantly expanded it to create a true hybrid, bimusical style. Like no other orquesta tejana, Little Joe y la Familia synthesized ranchero and jaitón to create an amalgamation that ranged from conjunto polkas to country-western, blues and jazz. In the 1970s, Little Joe was the indisputable leader in what became known as La Onda Chicana ("The Chicano Wave"). His polka- ranchera "Las Nubes" ("The Clouds"), with its intricate synthesis of jazz and ranchero, became a virtual anthem for Chicanos (Mexican Americans) everywhere in the Southwest.

Courtesy of palmpictures.com

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