Archive Collection on Exhibit at Conner Museum through May 18

Contact: Mary Daniels

(KINGSVILLE, 04/24/96)—The documentary exhibit, Selling the Song: the Falcon Recording Company Collection, examines the work of the Falcon Recording Company and its founder Arnaldo Ramirez, Sr. who died in 1994. The archive collection is on display through May 18 in the West Gallery of the John E.Conner Museum at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Spanning four decades, the Falcon Recording Company developed, recorded, and promoted over three hundred Spanish-language performers. It pioneered the emergence of a unique South Texas music style (Tejano) and promoted it persistently, contributing toward its prominence today.

On Sundays between 1964 and 1981, over 214 Spanish-language television stations from Utah to South Texas aired "Fanfarria Falcon," later named "Super Fanfarria."

The musical variety show introduced budding Tejano talent on a nationwide level and helped launch the musical careers of many well-known artists including Freddy Fender, Roberto Pulido, Pedro Ayala, Valerio Longoria, Narcisco Martinez, Cornelio Reyna, Chelo Silva, Los Alegres de Terán, and countless others. The popular duo of Marcelo y Aurelia claimed Kingsville as their hometown.

Dr. Ward Albro, A&M-Kingsville history professor whose expertise is Mexico, remarks that the distinctive musical form which has been an aspect of South Texas history and culture was kept alive after World War II by small regional recording companies until Tejano became so popular. Several of those regional recording companies were Falcon Records in the Rio Grande Valley, Ideal in Alice, and Freddy Records in Corpus Christi.

"I'm glad A&M-Kingsville has the Falcon collection because Tejano music, which merges conjunto and norteña (Northern Mexico) musical styles, originated with the Texas-Mexican artists of our area," commented Albro.

The Falcon Records exhibit includes the original recording machine, album covers and pre-print artwork, a 2-inch reel-to-reel television show tape, promotional giveaway items, vinyl records pressed in long-play 78 and 44 ½ rpm LP format, and video viewing tapes of the television show. The television show was originally created as a method of promoting the record label.

The historical artifacts were acquired two years ago by South Texas Archives which is a division of the Jernigan Library at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

"I retrieved them from an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas," said Cecilia Hunter, A&M-Kingsville archivist. "You should have seen it ... the roof was caving in and there were tons of bugs."

She elaborated that singer and business associate of Ramirez, Carlos Guzman, told her a university in New Mexico also wanted these artifacts, but Hunter got there first.

Hunter frequently responds to numerous search requests from film makers, writers and scholars for photographs and pictures that typify life in South Texas. It was such a request from Austin-based Galan Productions that prompted her search two years ago for photographic materials of Tejano performing groups. The search led to the acquisition of the Falcon Recording Company artifacts.

"The archival collections were started in 1925 by John E. Conner for the purpose of collecting and documenting the history and natural history of South Texas," explained the university archivist.

"The goal of the Falcon Records exhibit is not to cover all aspects of Mexican-American music, but to expose the visitor to the development and nature of the Mexican-American music industry," explains Conner Museum Educator Brian Volkmer.

For more information, call the Conner Museum at (512)593-2828 or South Texas Archives at (512)593-2776.

-Mary Daniel

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