Borderlands is aconcept that does not have to be seen to be considered borders and can often beplaced subconsciously by ourselves.
These borderlands are unsettled and unclearand are consistently changing. The famous singer Rosita Fernández was born in Mexico but spent the majorityof her life in San Antonio performing. She became a very important publicfigure there and was inducted into both San Antonio music based hall of famesas well as the Tejano Music Hall of Fame.
Being inducted into both of theseshows her diversity border including her Texan connection as well as herMexican connection since she is considered half Mexican and half Texan. Fernándezwas repeatedly asked to become San Antonio’s unofficial cultural ambassador oran “Old Mexico” symbol which reminds us of the border of her culture alwaysbeing present. What truly shows a border for the Mexican American singer is herpopularity outside of the city.
Rosita is far more popular in San Antonio thananywhere else. Although she had an incredible career with her talent and beingone of the most active performers of her culture, she still seems to be lessappreciated in other areas. This calls to question what borders we place onothers and if it affects situations such as this one. Although she was belovedin San Antonio, Rosita Fernández still fought the world for therecognition she deserved in the tough, masculinist industry of music. Thesinger’s music can act as a borderland as well. When observing just her music,you will see that Fernández’s music appears to conflict with Chicanomusicality. She didn’t seem to be perfectly labeled to just Mexican musician orAmerican musician. That borderline then was created between both parts ofherself and merged to create the beautiful creation of Tejano music that shewas able to share with several people.
It is hard for Rosita to be appreciatedto the fullness that she deserves since she is barely mentioned within Chicanohistory of music. In the book, “Divas inChicana Music”, the author, Deborah Vargas, says, “Following the sounds ofher career requires us to open our ears to less stable sonic imaginaries of theborderlands and of Tejano representations and subjectivities.” (Vargas 5) Thiscaptures the uniqueness that is Rosita Fernández and how even if she has todeal with borderlands she can use them to help make her a better musician thatis proud to be called a Mexican American Tejano singer.The phrase”Remember the Alamo” has deep historical meaning that is now known and studiedby people all over the world. This battle cry was yelled during and after theBattle of San Jacinto, to remember the Texans lost all of their fightersdevastatingly in a frantic fight at the Alamo. The battle took place becauseTexas was trying to depart from Mexico and it lead to Texas earning theirindependence.
This battle cry reminded Texans that they should not give up andcould win even against greater odds. In the 1920s and 1930s, Tejano music wasbecoming very popular in Texas especially among the Mexican migrants. This type of music, Tejano music, is knownfor its instrumentation and orchestration and originated among theMexican-American populations of Central and Southern Texas.
Another typicalnotation of Tejano music of that time period was it typically consisted ofmostly male musicians and singers. These were some of many stereotypes thatRosita Fernandez would overcome during her long career. Rosita Fernandezbegan her career singing in her uncle’s band called “Trio San Miguel.” They traveled and played in carpas or tent stages. Atan early age, she became the band’s lead singer which was very rare, even amongfamily bands. This was one stereotype she broke early in life.
In the early1930s, Rosita began singing on radio and all over San Antonio. She became knownfor her poblano dresses andsinging corridos,and ballads, also at the time dominated mostly by male performers. A favoritespot for Rosita’s performances was the Arneson River Theater on the San AntonioRiver near the River Walk. She was a true attraction for the city, for manyvisitors, and in 1982 a nearby bridge was named after her. Another milestoneachieved by Rosita Fernández was her many recordings of Tejano ballads whichmade her an early pioneer as one of the first female Tejana singers to record duringthat time period. She sang for manyfamous people in her life including Lady Bird Johnson, who named her SanAntonio’s First Lady of Song. She married Raúl A.
Almaguer in 1938 but continuedperforming under her maiden name which was almost unheard of for a woman duringthat day and age. The author notes that women in the borderlands have beenaligned against sexuality, gender, class, and age. “Remember the Alamo” can beapplied to Rosita Fernandez as she did not back away from these challenges butinstead pursued her passion which helped lead to a sexist free music industry. My hypothetical question to the author is: Do you thinkRosita Fernández’s ethnicity or culture had an effect on her music popularity?This question can be controversial depending on where you may be from, but itcan call to question if it has affected Ms. Fernández’s successnon-subjectively.
Rosita struggled with her culture holding her back from aneven more successful career and I do not think it was appropriately addressedin this article. Therefore, to see if this speculation is true or false, I planon analyzing the text and seeing if my theory is for good reason. RositaFernandez performed the Tejano/Chicano music, a mix of her native Mexico andTexas, to a San Antonio audience of peoples which included native Mexicans,Mexican Americans, and White Anglos. Rosita created her Mexican Americanidentity, with her Tejano music and native costumes, thus bringing the folkmusic and costume of her heritage to her performance venues of San Antonio. Rositais seen as an ambassador of San Antonio, her native dress and popular balladsserving to create an image publicly loved by both cultures.
Rosita identified strongly with the borderlands and used the culture of theborderlands as a basis for her art. Shestepped outside of the traditional boundaries set for Mexican women and helpedpave the way for the formation of a Mexican American identity.Rosita Fernandez, San Antonio’s First Lady of Song,most likely would have enjoyed a much larger fan base, notoriety, and career ifshe had performed on a national stage. Rosita had many offers and she couldhave chosen to tour, singing her music across the country. She also had the option to move to Californiawhich would have allowed for additional movie opportunities. However, she choseto stay in San Antonio with her family and friends; after all, San Antonio washer home.