Ruben Vela Y Conjunto
Ruben Vela
- ACCORDION/VOCALS
Enrique "Flaco" Naranjo - VOCALS AND BASS
Felix Aleman - BAJO SEXTO
Ruben "Rabbit" Vela, Jr. - DRUMS

Ardie Tijerina. - PERCUSSION

Ruben Vela was born May 10, 1937. Although he was born in San Antonio, he spent most of his youth in the Rio Grande Valley, growing up in cities like Relampago and Mercedes. While he and his family were living in Mercedes, Ruben's mother presented 11year-old Ruben with his first accordion - a brand new two row Hohner. Even though the $70 she spent was a lot of money for that time, she soon realized, it was money well spent. Ruben was so delighted that he could now play with his 9 brothers and 1 sister, all musicians, he practiced non-stop. And at the tender age of 12, Ruben decided he was ready for his first public performance.

Ruben had such talent and his music was so well received, that by 1956, he became a regular on the KGBT Martin Rosales radio show in the Valley. Rosales was so impressed with young Ruben that he introduced him to the owner of Discos Falcon in McAllen. There, Ruben recorded his first song, and instrumental called "Adolorido," a compilation, based on two old traditional Mexican songs, "Adolorido" and "El Abandonado." It became an instant hit.

So, in 1959, with his first hit in hand, Ruben decided it was time to start touring. Since then, he has recorded many other memorable hits, including, "Te Regalo El Corazon," "Mire Amigo," and "El Oso Negro." Ruben also recorded the beloved, "El Pajuelazo" and "El Tiroteo." Throughout the years, Ruben has recorded on such labels as, Bego, Freddie, Dina, Joey, and Hacienda, and most recently, Crown.

Throughout the years, Ruben Vela's music has touched the hearts and souls of Tejano fans around the world. In 1983 he was honored for these outstanding contributions to the world of Conjunto music and inducted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame at the world famous Conjunto Festival in San Antonio.

But who would have guessed that things would only get better? After forty years of entertaining audiences, Ruben Vela and his Conjunto had their biggest hit of all, a power cumbia called "El Coco Rayado ñ Powermix." Not only did "El Coco Rayado" get heavy rotation throughout the Valley, it received impressive play in tough northern markets, as well. But the real surprise came in 1997, when the follow-up "La Papaya" earned Ruben a nomination for three Tejano Music Awards. This super-charged cumbia, not only earned Ruben a nomination for Song of the Year, but for Album of the year, as well. So, at an age when most people are contemplating retirement, Ruben dealt with a hectic touring schedule, the likes of which he had never before seen.

Ruben Vela and his Conjunto are looking forward to continuing their legacy of success with Crown Records, with whom they recently signed. Although no one knows what the future holds for this Tejano superstar, all that is certain is that he isn't finished yet!

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Photos by
Robert Alsbury