Iconic Tejano Singer Laura Canales Born

by Jason Mellard / Center for Texas Music History at Texas State

Episode #16: Tejano Singer Laura Canales Born / Produced by Jack Anderson

On August 19, 1954, Tejano singer Laura Canales was born in Kingsville. She began singing in the early 1970s with prominent area groups such as El Conjunto Bernal before launching her own recording career with the single “Midnight Blue” in 1975. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Canales became a leading singer in the genre and won female vocalist of the year multiple times from the Tejano Music Awards. She was honored for her contributions in the field, too, by the likes of Governor Mark White and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, who called her the “First Lady of Song in South Texas.”

Canales championed the traditional conjunto sound, always maintaining an accordion player in her bands and performing conjunto sets, even as she remained open to the sonic innovations that the synthesizer and other instruments brought to the genre.  By the late 1980s and into the Tejano boom of the 1990s, several new artists, such as Selena Quintanilla and Shelly Lares, built upon the foundation Canales had laid. By then, Canales had achieved legendary status, touring with the Leyendas y Raises tour with Agustin Ramirez, Little Joe Hernandez, and Sunny Ozuna. Canales passed in 2005, her legacy secured by both her ties to tradition and the paths she forged for future artists.   


Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan, and Ann T. Smith, eds. The Handbook of Texas Music. Second Edition. Denton, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 2012.

Manuel Peña. Música Tejana: The Cultural Economy of Artistic Transformation. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1999.

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