October 29, 1911|
Reynosa, Mexico 
June 5, 1992 |
San Benito, Texas 
Narciso Martínez (October 29, 1911 in Reynosa, Mexico - June 5, 1992 in San Benito, Texas), given the nickname, El Huracan del Valle ("The Hurricane of the Valley"), by a furniture dealer and talent broker nameed Enrique Valentin, began recording in 1935 (or 1936) and is the father of conjunto music. The Spanish word conjunto means 'group' and in El Valle de Tejas that means accordion, bajo sexto, and contrabajo (string bass, known locally also as "el tololoche"). The same year, he and Santiago recorded the polka "La Chicharronera" and the schottishche "El Tronconal" for Bluebird Records.
He was born in Reynosa, Mexico, however his family moved to La Paloma, Texas near Brownsville where he was raised. He had one Brother named Santos Martinez. In 1928, he got married and learned how to play the one-row diatonic accordion from the local German and Czech families around Bishop, Texas. Don Narciso, the first widely successful conjunto recording artist, made hundreds of recordings of mostly instrumental dance tunes emphasizing the melody side of the accordion and leaving the bass parts to his bajo sexto player, Santiago Almeida. They began playing local dances and festivals around Brownsville, Texas and Raymondville, Texas. Local merchant and furniture store owner, Enrique Valentin, heard them and persuaded recording director, Eli Oberstein, to record them for the BlueBird label. This established a new sound, which is quickly identifiable as Texas-Mexican Conjunto Music. In 1937, he would span his music into Cajun and polka, issuing records under the pseudonym "Louisiana Pete" and "Polish Joe". In the 1950s, he joined other Mexican-Americans on the Tejano dancehall circuit, touring areas of New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Narciso Martínez is the recipient of the National Heritage Award for his contributions to one of the United States' important ethnic traditions. He recorded for IDEAL Records and Paco Betancourt in San Benito, Texas, as well as large American labels. He died of leukemia in 1992.
The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, an organization dedicated to the reservation, promotion and development of the rich and cultural heritage of the Mexicano community, in San Benito, is named for him.