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This Week in Texas Music History: Ventura Alonzo

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 in Texas Music History, we’ll learn how the “Queen of the Accordion” took charge of her Houston realm.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. 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 KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Ventura Alonzo was born on Dec. 30, 1904, in Matamoros, Mexico. When Alonzo was five, her family moved to Brownsville, where she learned to play piano and accordion. By the 1920s, she was living in Houston and had married a bajo sexto player named Frank Alonzo . In 1938, the couple started the band Alonzo y Sus Rancheros. Ventura Alonzo not only wrote many of the group’s songs, but she was also the first tejana accordionist to record. In 1956, the Alonzos opened La Terraza, one of the most popular Mexican-American venues in Houston. Ventura Alonzo performed in the house band but also worked as the club’s business manager, negotiating artist contracts and handling promotions and ticket sales.

Ventura Alonzo was honored in 1996 with a mural in Houston’s Magnolia Park, a testament to her important role in the city’s Mexican-American music scene. She died in 2000 and was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2002.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about what happened when some imported Pistols went off in a Texas dance hall