Little Joe Hernandez
This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll look at a singer who grew up as a sharecropper but went on to become the first Tejano artist ever to win a Grammy.
Little Joe Hernández was born in Temple, Texas, on October 17, 1940. His grandfather had been a colonel in Pancho Villa’s army, but his parents worked as sharecroppers near Temple. At the age of sixteen, Hernandez began playing with David Coronado and the Latinaires. When Coronado left the band, Hernandez changed the name to Little Joe and the Latinaires. At first, the Latinaires played mostly Top 40 pop songs. However, by the late 1960s, Hernández had become increasingly involved in the Chicano movement. He changed the band’s name to Little Joe y La Familia and began to shape a new sound and image that would reflect his ethnic roots and his growing social activism. His 1972 remake of the older tune “Las Nubes” became an anthem of sorts for the Chicano movement. Hernandez’s blending of traditional Mexican folk styles with blues and rock and roll helped lay the foundation for the emergence of Tejano music in the 1980s. In 1992, Little Joe became the first Tejano artist ever to win a Grammy for his album Diez y Seis de Septiembre.