Background Image
Tejano music has a long history dating back to the early 1900s. Its composition is original Mexican rhythms at the core, with traditional corrido and conjunto sound, hybridized with a dash of polka. Mix in a little blues, country, R&B, rock and a splash of jazz and you get a fusion of music in its own class. The popularity of Tejano music grew during the 1940s, but it really took off during the 1950s. It came about during a time when Mexican-Americans struggled to hold on to their identity and culture and yearned for style of music they could call their own. Tejano music produced a unique culture and influenced a new breed of Mexican-Americans. With it, the Tejano movement was born and at its highest peak, saw rising stars such as Selena y Los Dinos, La Mafia, Grupo Mazz and Intocable. They took Tejano music by storm and paved the way for the young rising star, Natajja. Natajja remembers that at five years old, she started singing in school choirs and participating in musical productions. “The school choirs and plays were fun and they led me to where I am today,” says Natajja. As children Natajja and her younger sister, Bessie, took voice lessons every day after school with their mother, Octavia. She had them on a strict routine and no excuses were accepted. Digging in to the past Natajja recalls how she would stand in front of a mirror and pretended to sing and perform in front of an audience. She remembers telling her father, Sal, “One day, I am going to walk the red carpet.” Tejano music is a family thing. Octavia was born in San Antonio, TX–the Tejano music capital of the world–and she grew up around Tejano music. It is the type of music that her family listens to and is involved in. Sal, originally from Lordsburg, NM, also came from a family where music was a big part of their life. His family including his father, grandfather, brother, uncles and cousins have always been around music, playing instruments and singing. He says that the reason they moved to Las Cruces was to allow better opportunities for their five children, a concept that has worked out quite well for all of them. Living in Las Cruces has been very rewarding for the entire family, but also somewhat of a challenge for Natajja and her parents because Tejano music is not very popular here. But, this is home. This is where she was born and raised and where all her childhood memories are. It’s where Natajja went to school and graduated from Oñate High School. It’s where she claims, “It’s an amazing place to live. It’s a growing city, but it still has a country feel to it.” At the age of nineteen, Natajja performed a solo on stage for the very first time and she admits, “It was amazing! The feeling is indescribable, to have everyone yelling for you or just knowing that all those fans are waiting for you to get on stage is amazing, I love being up there!” Locally she has performed at the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and surprised many with her distinct vocals. Sal says, “Funny, when she performed here, they asked us if we were from Houston. Laughing I said, ‘no she’s from your backyard, Las Cruces.’” Sal says that the icing on the cake will be to see her hometown of Las Cruces support her more and get to know her through events here. At her young age, Natajja is working arduously to make her dreams a reality; dreams that include making it big not only in Tejano music, but also in the country music industry as well. Country music holds a special place in her heart but she admits that she doesn’t want to stop recording Spanish music. Her ultimate goal is to one day walk the red carpet at the CMAs, as she once told her father she would, and record a duet with her all time favorite country artist, Brad Paisley. Her hard work and dedication is evident in the progress that she has made just this past year. On June 18, 2011, Natajja release her self-titled debut album, Natajja, all the while performing at events such as the Tejano Fan Fair in San Antonio, TX; Tejano Convention in Las Vegas, NV; Seguin Texas Festival; and in places like Lubbock, TX. Natajja has been at the top of the Tejano music charts in popularity for quite some time, but in the last few months her song, “El hombre que yo amo,” climbed steadily reaching number one on the Tejano Magazine Top Twenty and maintained the spot for five consecutive weeks. Her music is now being played on radio stations in twenty-eight different states across the country, giving her validation and securing a two time nomination for Best Female Artist in the Tejano Music Awards. The Tejano Fan Fair event in San Antonio attracts over 85,000 people every year. This year, Natajja has been invited once again to perform along with many other top Tejano artists. She is a celebrity in Texas and cannot go out in public without being recognized. It is beyond belief that, when she gets home, she is rarely recognized as Natajja, the recording artist. “It’s my relaxation time, this when I get to be a regular adult and hang out with my friends and family without having someone by my side 24/7. I actually enjoy it but, I also love going back to my fans,” she explains. Today, Natajja is working on writing her own music and with a solid fan base, she is now ready to do a cross-over and begin recording in English. Due to be released in March, the cross-over CD will have a special blend of unique sounds and a combination of the English and Spanish tunes, which Sal Gomez, Natajja’s manager and father, anticipates will be appealing to younger people. He hopes that it will allow the fans to connect to their culture and roots. For now, Natajja is happy if her fellow Las Crucens know that she is a very outgoing, strong, independent woman. That she enjoys life, loves her music and loves being on stage. The process has been a long one, but it is well worth it if she increases her fan base one fan at a time. Her parents taught her to stay humble and be grateful for the talent God has given her. Natajja’s advice to all is, “If you have a dream go after it, don’t let anyone tell you different because dreams do come true, you just got to put the dedication and time into it.”