HomeWorld NewsDetroit’s Tejano music to be honored with Michigan historical marker in Mexicantown – Detroit Free Press
Detroit’s Tejano music to be honored with Michigan historical marker in Mexicantown – Detroit Free Press
August 25, 2023
An often overlooked chapter of Detroit music history is set to be permanently recognized with an official state of Michigan marker.
Tejano music — which filled the bars and house parties of southwest Detroit following the migration of Mexican Americans in the mid-1900s — will be celebrated with the Michigan Historical Museum’s familiar green-and-gold tablet.
The historical marker will be installed at the northeast corner of Bagley and 21st streets in Detroit’s Mexicantown district and unveiled during a 2 p.m. Sept. 29 ceremony featuring live music. The marker will be accompanied by a granite monument listing names of notable Detroit families involved in Tejano music.
The project, approved by the state’s historical commission in several phases during the past year, was spearheaded by the Michigan Music Hall of Fame and the family of late Tejano musician Martin Solis.
Third Man Records also helped sponsor and fund the effort. Label founder Jack White grew up in southwest Detroit, and his brother Eddie Gillis helped produce the 2020 album “Introducing Martin Solis and Los Primos,” released by Third Man.
The Texas-born Solis, whose family of migrant farmworkers moved to Detroit in the 1940s, mastered the 12-string Mexican guitar known as a bajo sexto and specialized in the conjunto style, notable for its use of accordion. His music was never formally recorded in a studio, but reel-to-reel tapes capturing rehearsal sessions with his group Los Primos were later discovered in an attic, leading to the Third Man compilation.
In 2018, a year before his death, Solis was inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame, based in Alice, Texas.
“Jack was excited about this connection,” Gillis said. “We knew Martin Solis growing up — he was one of those Mexican musicians you’d see and hear performing at bars, at parties, in backyards. This thing just kept blossoming into something.”
Organizers of the Sept. 29 marker unveiling say the marker “will be the first in the state to recognize the contributions of a Mexican community to Michigan history,” as a Friday news release put it.
“It is fitting that the first Michigan Historical Marker to commemorate the Latinx community of Detroit and Michigan should focus on Tejano contributions to the soundscape of Detroit,” said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center in Lansing. “The Michigan Historical Commission and the Michigan History Center know there are many more stories that need to be told, and we look forward to sharing them in the years to come.”
Other official backers of the Tejano marker effort include the Mexicantown Community Development Corp., the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, SCP Radio and the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University.
Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or email@example.com.