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Balde González Orquesta, ca. 1950s. Courtesy María González, Balde González Collection, Texas Music Museum.
GONZÁLEZ, BALDE (1928–1974). Singer, composer, and instrumentalist Balde González was born in Beeville, Texas, on May 30, 1928. González was born blind, and when he was eight his mother, María Delgado, sent him to the Texas School for the Blind (now the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired) in Austin. In the capital city he learned to play several instruments, including the violin and piano. He began performing with a few of his classmates––mostly popular music at local parties.
In 1948, before finishing school, he returned to Beeville, where he formed his own orchestra, comprising a trumpet, alto and tenor saxophones, contrabass, trap drums, and piano. In 1949 he signed with Melco, a small recording company in Corpus Christi. He recorded boleros and fox-trots in a cosmopolitan style, singing in Spanish and English in a soft, soothing, baritone. By the early 1950s González had enlarged his band and signed with Ideal Records. His self-composed hits included "Oye Corazón," "Qué Me Puede Ya Importar," and "Cuéntame Tu Vida."
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His style of orquesta, an example of the jaiton or "high-class" ensemble, emphasized an Americanized repertoire. In the 1960s, as his fame began to diminish, González pursued his musical career as a soloist by playing piano and singing in clubs in the Houston area. Without his orchestra he relied on mainstream popular music. His choice of musical style and his avoidance of the ranchero orchestra genre associated with Beto Villa and Isidro López somewhat limited his popularity. He died in Houston in 1974. In 1985 he was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame, which recognized him for his "excellence in the Tejano music industry."
Manuel Peña, The Mexican American Orquesta: Music, Culture, and the Dialectic of Conflict (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999). Manuel Peña, Música Tejana: The Cultural Economy of Artistic Transformation (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, "Gonzalez, Balde," accessed February 22, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgo75.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 14, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.