Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembers a performer who blended a variety of ethnic influences to help forge modern Tejano music.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you.
And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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Rubén Ramos, nicknamed “El Gato Negro,” was born in Sugarland, Texas, on Feb. 9, 1940. Ramos grew up poor, but nearly everyone in his family was musical. His father played fiddle, his mother guitar and his uncle had the successful Ruben Perez Orchestra. By the late 1960s, Ramos had established himself as a talented singer and bandleader who exuded a strong sense of ethnic pride. His group, the Mexican Revolution, helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of Tejano in the 1980s by combining traditional Mexican folk music with blues, R&B, funk, soul and country. Rubén Ramos continues to be a prolific and successful artist, winning numerous awards and performing with some of the Lone Star State’s most prominent musicians.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate a honky-tonk legend whose health problems almost ended his career.