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The Sound & the Fury

Tejano’s “red alert”

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The 31st annual edition of the Tejano Music Awards being held at the San Antonio Event Center this Saturday, come during a critical point for the genre. Either the Tejanos get it together in 2012, or the Tejano category of the Latin Grammys could be a thing of the past.

Both NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Grammy Awards) and LARAS (its Latin counterpart, behind the Latin Grammy Awards) require every category to have at least 25 submissions per year, out of which the five most voted albums become that year’s five category nominees. When categories fall below that minimum, they get put on hold. If things don’t improve, the category is eliminated and consolidated into another category. According to LARAS president Gabriel Abaroa, when it comes to the Latin Grammy, the Tejanos are an endangered species.

“I don’t have [the exact figure for Tejano submissions] with me, but I think [in the last year] it was just a little bit above 10,” Abaroa told the Current. “It’s like red alert. How bad the situation is from one to 10? Oh, the red light is on nine. If we don’t have enough recordings next year we will have to put the category on hold.”

Texas is one of the few states to have a LARAS chapter, a situation Abaroa says Tejanos are not taking full advantage of.

“I don’t think that the Tejano music community is very united these days, even though they have all the elements to be united,” he said. “Only a few [members] are proactive in Texas and, moreover, the Texas government is always trying to help Tejano music via grants, which is an example to the rest of the country.”

The problem is not membership, says Abaroa. What the genre needs is albums, and for members to participate in the process by selecting and submitting enough albums to secure the category.

“We have plenty of members but, what kind of members?” Abaroa said. “It’s one thing to be affiliated, but another one is to be an active member. Either they’re not participating, and that’s why there are not enough submissions, or Tejano music really is on a rapid decline. If that’s the case, then there’s nothing we can do.”

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