Ventura Alonzo, Queen of the Accordion

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll hear how the “Queen of the Accordion” took charge of her Houston realm.

Ventura Alonzo was born on December 30, 1904, in Matamoros, Mexico. When Alonzo was five, her family moved to Brownsville, Texas, where she learned to play piano and accordion. By the 1920s, she was living in Houston and had married a bajo sexto player named Frank Alonzo. In 1938, the couple started the band, Alonzo y Sus Rancheros. Ventura Alonzo not only wrote many of the group’s songs, but she was also the first tejana accordionist to record. In 1956, the Alonzos opened La Terraza, one of the most popular Mexican-American venues in Houston. Ventura Alonzo performed in the house band but also worked as the club’s business manager, negotiating artist contracts and handling promotions and ticket sales.

Ventura Alonzo was honored in 1996 with a mural in Houston’s Magnolia Park, a testament to her important role in the city’s Mexican-American music scene. She died in 2000 and was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in 2002.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about what happened when some imported Pistols went off in a Texas dance hall.

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