National Heritage Fellow “Little Joe” Hernández describes his musical journey explaining how his culture, family, and personal experiences shaped his legendary style. Coming from a musical family, he took the traditional Mexican songs he grew up hearing, and blended them with jazz, country, rock ‘n roll, and blues creating a distinctive voice in Tejano music. He discusses his transition from a shy boy to the frontman of Little Joe and the Latinaires—later Little Joe and La Familia. He discusses his time in California and the explosion of Latin Jazz, the great significance of the Chicano Movement on his music, his concerts for the United Farm Workers Union, and his return to Temple, Texas to raise his family. He sheds light on the band’s compositions and collaborations, indicating how they honed their distinctive sound over time. Hernández also discusses the profound emotional connection music can forge, allowing artists and audiences to bond over shared feelings and experiences, his collaborations with Willie Nelson for Farm Aid, his five Grammy Awards, his longevity in the music business, and the way the music preserves, expands, and celebrates Chicano culture.
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