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The Narcisco Martinez Cultural Arts Center is an organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the rich and cultural heritage including the visual arts, music, theater, dance and literary works. Narciso Martinez was born in 1911 in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, but lived most of his life near San Benito, Texas. The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center was named in his honor as the result of his philosophy of being a proud man of Mexican ancestry and working class origins; a man of the people who over the years gave of himself and his musical talents so that others could enjoy his contributions; a man who was willing to share his rich musical and Texas-Mexican border experience.

He has been labeled as “the father of Texas-Mexican conjunto.”

Narciso was the first successful recording artist who made hundreds of recordings of mostly instrumental dance tunes emphasizing the melodic side of the accordion and leaving the bass parts to his bajo sexton player, according to Arhoolie Records. This established a new sound, a sound which to this day is immediately identifiable as Texas-Mexican Conjunto Music.

In 1935 with Narciso on the accordion, teamed with bajo sexton player Santiago Almeida on the bajo sexton, they began a highly productive collaboration leading to the establishment of their new sound in an embryonic conjunto style. In 1935 Narciso and Santiago made musical history with the recordings of the polka La Chicharronera and schottische El Tronconal of the Bluebird record label. The results were impressive and Narciso Martinez was on his way to becoming the most prolific and most popular accordion player after 1935. He was given the epithet of “El Huracan del Valle” in recognition of the great storm of popularity his music generated. He was indeed, a pathfinder.

Narciso Martinez led the evolution of new style of accordion driven music, until his death at the age of 80 in 1992. He represents a major historical artist not only for the Rio Grande Valley but for the rest of country as well. Narciso recorded through 1992 before falling ill in 1992, and performed for various events locally and state-wide. In 1983 he received the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of the Humanities in Washington, D.C.

Other facets of the Arts Center include a writers forum, periodic speakers/lectures/performances, accordion and guitar lessons, poetry readings, book signings, art exhibits and of course, the annual Conjunto Music Festival that attracts thousands of conjunto enthusiasts from across the country. That event is typically held in October and features a three-day l lineup of quality accordion-based musicians who thrill the crowd of spectators and cause spontaneous dancing and cheering during these fun-filled, star-lit performances.

Copyright 2012 The Narcisco Martinez Cultural Arts Center