One of the major figures in Tex-Mex border music,
Santiago Jimenez, Jr. is a singer and accordion virtuoso of the first rank.
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. (born April 8, 1944) is a folk musician who has won a National Heritage Fellowship in 2000 for lifetime achievement in traditional Tex-Mex/folk music. His father, Santiago Jiménez Sr. was a pioneer of conjunto music. His older brother Leonardo “Flaco” Jiménez is considered by many the most well known Tejano accordionist. Santiago’s style is more traditional than that of his brother Flaco, who is noted for mixing his music with many styles outside the Tejano genre.
Santiago performed at the 2006 National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia. In 2011 he performed at the 50th Anniversary Concert for Arhoolie Records, held in Berkeley, California. Portions of that performance appeared in the July-4th-Weekend, 2011 edition of the public radio program American Routes.
Santiago is a 3 time Grammy nominee, has toured all over Europe, in countries such as Germany, Austria, Holland, United Kingdom, France, Russia. He has also performed over the United States. Santiago started playing at the age of 15, and by the age of 17, he was doing his first recordings. He has a total of 70 different albums and CDs to his name. Santiago is a welcomed addition to the Roland V-Accordion team,. Santiago is also now performing with Roland V-Accordion artist and Product Specialist Chris Rybak.
His father virtually invented the conjunto instrumental style, and Santiago’s playing follows in that tradition while at the same time incorporating much of the more modern approach made popular by his brother Flaco. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has honored Santiago Jimenez Jr. with two Grammy nominations.
Some of Santiago Jr.’s first recordings were on local labels — Lira, Magda, Discos Grande, Corona — and were sold on 45 rpms. In 1960, at age 17, he recorded a full-length album with Flaco. Recent recordings, including Corazón de Piedra and Canciones de Mi Padre, have appeared on Watermelon Records, in Austin.
The songs, in Spanish, are lively and direct and deal with real-life situations — work, love and dance. More than a revivalist, Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a living memory of a time when the living Mexican-American people Of South Texas were making their presence known amid social oppression, forced assimilation and economic difficulty.
The music represents the experience of a people and is celebrated for having helped shape a society that remains strong in its identity and cultural presence.