This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a migrant worker who became a king.
On December 1, 1990, Pedro Ayala died in South Texas. Born in 1911 in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, he was eight years old when his family moved to the United States as migrant farm workers. Ayala learned to play the violin and guitar, but it was the accordion that became his true passion. According to Ayala, “Germans build accordions, Italians play them, and Mexicanos play them best.” Pedro Ayala began performing professionally in the 1930s. By the 1940s, he was so popular that he had earned the nickname the “Monarch of the Accordion.”
Pedro Ayala toured with some of the best-known Texas-Mexican performers of his day, including Beto Villa and Isidro Lopez. In 1988, the National Endowment for the Arts named Ayala a National Heritage Fellow, just two years before his death in 1990.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate an opera singer who also had the president’s ear.