Thursday, 17 June 2010 11:08

Carmen H. Marroquin, along with her sister Laura, was one of the early pioneers in Tejano music. The sisters were the first Tex-Mex duets to tour the United State sin the 1940s.

Marroquin died Friday, June 11 at the age of 88.

Marroquin, like fellow legend Lydia Mendoza, harks back a time when the only stages for women in music were the vaudeville shows. As far as singers and duets there were precious few and even less documentation of such performers.

Carmen Y Laura are recognized in the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame in San Antonio, Texas. The Texas Music Hall of Fame in Austin,

 Texas, and the Smithsonian Folkway Museum in Washington, D.C.

Carmen also recorded several hit songs with Paulino Bernal on the Ideal Record Label. Along with singing, she and her husband, Armando started 4 Star Records, which was the first Tejano record company.

She also opened La Villita Dance Hall in 1950 which she ran herself until 2005.  Carmen also achieved many other goals in her life such as: She served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, was the first woman to serve as juror in the district court, formed a committee to fight for the first Hispanic principal in the school district, was one of the founders of the St. Joseph Altar Society, raised signatures to petition flood control on Lattas Creek in the south side of Alice, and worked on the committee to put underground electrical wiring for the safety of the children of Nayer Elementary School.

Condolences may be left for the family at:

Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records, based in El Cerrito, California, was one of the few ethnomusicologists who have documented the contributions of these women.

While Lydia Mendoza and her family were making inroads, the duets of Carmen and Laura were also popular at the time.
 And instrumental in the rise of these Tex-Mex performers was Armando Marroquin, known as a talent scout, record producer and studio engineer.

He helped produce many of the early pioneers for the Paco Betancourt's Discos Ideal. In time Discos Ideal and Ideal studios became the center point for early Tex-Mex recordings.

Other performers that made an impact in these early days included Eva Garza, Chelo Silva, Maria Luisa, Rosita Fernandez, Hermanas Segovia, Laura Cantu, and Las Abajenas.

For much more detail in the development of this music and the pioneers, check our Arhoolie Records liner notes, preserved at the University of Texas: 

Photo courtesy Univeristy of Texas at Austin