Texas music has deep roots in the Texas Hill Country, which is why directors at the Wittliff Collections decided to begin a collection centered on preserving the history of Texas music.
Hector Saldaña has been named the Texas Music Curator at The Wittliff Collections, located on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library, and is tasked with growing and developing this new project. The position is the first of its kind.
From an early age, Saldaña was drawn to the different styles of Texas music played on the radio. Although he grew up in Corpus Christi, Saldaña comes from a ranching family in Laredo. He was surrounded by border music and saw its influence on other Texas genres.
Inspired by artists such as Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Von and Barbara Lynn, Saldaña has an appreciation for all styles of Texas music.
Saldaña is the founder, songwriter, singer and guitarist for The Krayolas. Saldaña said they have been described as the ‘Tex-Mex Beatles’, meaning they are a rock ‘n’ roll band with Texas influences.
Started in the ’70s and ’80s as a teenage rock band, The Krayolas made a comeback about 10 years ago and have since produced critically-acclaimed albums. Saldaña had the opportunity to share the stage with many other musicians across the country.
For over 23 years, Saldaña has written for the San Antonio Express-News as a music columnist, in addition to being a musician himself. In this capacity, he has been able to explore the lives of various musicians, discover their passions and tell their stories.
David Coleman, The Wittliff Collections director, said he believes Saldaña’s experiences as a writer and musician have afforded him a rich knowledge of Texas music and an ability to speak the language of musicians, making him the perfect person to spearhead this new collection.
The creation of a curator position will allow many more important music collections to be brought in to highlight the cultural dynamics of the American Southwest.
Gary Hartman, Center for Texas Music History director, said The Wittliff collect archives on Texas music for over 15 years and said that he is excited for this new position to have a place at The Wittliff.
“Music has been an important way for people everywhere to articulate their experiences, beliefs, fears, hopes and values,” Hartman said. “The music of Texas tells the story of our state.”
Saldaña said he looks forward to setting the tone and the agenda for the new collection. One of his first orders of business will be to bring out the materials the collection already has and to make them accessible to the public.
The cultural history of Texas music is large and complex. Ensuring that the history of the music is recorded correctly and that it encompasses all types of Texas music is a top priority for Saldaña.
“It is so important to preserve the history of Texas music so that it isn’t just nostalgia, but that it is living today,” Saldaña said.
Saldaña plans to decorate his office with an Orange amplifier in the corner of the room with his electric guitar plugged in as a reminder for himself and anyone who comes to his office that, at the end of the day, it is always about the music.