|Name: Cecilio “Don Chilo” Garza
Born: Peñitas, Texas
Graduate: La Joya High School
Publisher: South Texas Music Publishing
Genres: Tejano, Country, Political corridos (ballads)
Languages: English, Spanish
Awards: Tejano Roots Hall of Fame inductee 2005, National Heritage Fellowship nominee 2005, Música del Sur de Tejas Hall of Fame inductee 2014, Border Festival Walk of Fame 2014 inductee
| Cecilio Garza, Jr. was born on May 10, 1951 in Penitas, Tx. and is known to his friends as “Don Chilo”. Early in his life he was inspired and influenced to the life of a musician by his mother, Ernestina Z. Garza, who herself was a piano player.At an early age, Cecilio was encouraged to start his musical career. He graduated from La Joya High School in 1969 where he played with one of the pioneers in Tejano music, Lenny and the Lucky Six. Cecilio considers Fidencio”Lenny” Salinas as one of his early mentors. Cecilio continued playing through his high school years playing with Sergio Munoz y Los Incas, also a trail blazing band in their early years of Tejano Music.In 1971 he co-founded the group Los Kasinos along with David Leo, Alex Zamora, Mike Flores and Rudy Morua . His first recording with the faith and support of Mel Villarreal and Ramiro de la Cruz “Snowball”(two of the Rio Grande Valley pioneers of Tejano music) and Uniko Recordings. The songs “Pertlita” also known as :Mi Sueño de Oro: and the bolero “Nomás por Quererte” were destined to become classics in the Tejano music industry.Throughout the ‘70’s, in collaboration with Uniko Records, Falcon Records and Freddie records continued recording and touring throughout the United States. Many of his songs like “El Muchacho Alegre” went on to be recorded by the likes of Johnny Rodriguez, David Lee Garza and most recently by Chente Barrera from San Antonio. Other well-known songs that contributed to the Tejano music movement are “ El Poderoso”, “Soy Tuyo” and Palomita Encantadora.” The latter was re-recorded by Fandango USA. Other artists that recorded his songs include: Bobby “El Charro Negro” Butler of Tortilla Factory and Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution.In the mid 80’s Cecilio collaborated with also a pioneer in Tejano music Dan Segura and the Segura brothers in the Houston area. He also recorded the conjunto album “Tejano Power Jam “with Ramiro “Snowball: De la Cruz and accordionist Joe Escalante which produced the hit songs “El Palomito” and “Alma Rendida”.
On November of 2005 Cecilio was inducted in the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame for his contribution to the Tejano music tradition.
In 2005-2006 Cecilio Garza was the Texas Folk Life featured artist with the Community Residency Program in La Joya ISD. The title of the program was “Tejano Music- A Community’s Contribution through music, artists, bands and charlas”. Through this program, Cecilio was able to share his knowledge of Tejano music and his own life experience as a practitioner of the art with students, senior citizen groups, and the community in general. He believes that with this recognition comes the responsibility to assure that our musical traditions continue to flourish and be recognized as an American art form.
In 2005 Cecilio was nominated for the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship awards in Washington D.C. In addition, he has gained acclaim for his writing of political corridos (ballads) as evidenced by his work “Corrido de Ed Aparicio”, work done in association with Dr. Margaret Dorsey of the University of Texas at Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.
In 2006 Cecilio teamed up with Fine Arts director, Mr. Amancio Chapa and the La Joya ISD as an assistant to the mariachi program. To this day, he serves as instructor in the school district for the Tejano conjunto groups. Cecilio has spear headed the conjunto festivals since 2010 bringing pioneer accordion players like Paulino Bernal and Joel Guzmán to conduct workshops, clinics and special presentations. His work at the school throughout the years has instilled self esteem, pride and willingness to succeed in the lives of many under privileged students.