As a lifelong Tejano musician, Veronique Medrano was thrilled to see the "Legends of Tejano Music" exhibition at The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. But she wondered why it took so long to collect these oral histories and memorabilia.
And that's when she decided to pursue her studies as an archivist.
"In my mind, I'm at the right point," Medrano says. "I can't wait until I'm 56 years old to have Tejano music preserved."
After that event, she researched every college in the state and found that UNT's College of Information offered the best program in library sciences. Medrano, who lives in Brownsville, works a full-time job at Citibank in addition to keeping up with her online studies and a music career that includes four albums. But she maintains the busy schedule for the music that she loves.
"I'm not just a musician," she says. "I'm an educator and a preservationist, keeping my culture and my history alive."
Music has always been a part of Medrano's life.
She has played the piano and accordion since she was a child and performed classical music all through middle and high school. After she graduated from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, she began pursuing music as a career -- producing her first album, Encantadora, in 2013.
Performing gives her life.
"For me, it definitely touches in those other aspects of me for which there are no words," she says. "It fulfills me in a way that education or a day job alone could not do."
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented her from touring -- and it hit during a rough couple of years in which she was in and out of the hospital for continued issue from the removal of her gallbladder in 2020. But it gave her more time to concentrate on the creation of music, not the promotion. Her new album, La Novela, is a five-track EP that tells the story of her life: "my personal journey as a Mexican American and dealing with my identity and culture, love, heartbreak and healing." The second half of the story is Como Dice El Dicho, which will be released April 2021.
Her first single was called Hola Y Adios, which she felt like was healing.
"I had to 'adios' to the things and people holding me back and 'hola' to a future where joy and self-love was the goal," she says. "That is definitely why I felt like it was my healing. I felt like this record was cathartic to me as a woman going through joys and heartaches. We all go through the ups and downs of relationships in your 20s and you experience both the highest highs and the lowest lows. I felt such conflict over professionally excelling while in private I had to deal with jealousy from 'friends' or former partners. I wanted to have it all and this record really highlights the growth that came from three years of deep self-reflection and learning that I needed to heal from and all of that emotional hurdles that I had to go through in my life."
Medrano follows a tradition in Tejano music that includes Laura Canales, Lydia Mendoza and Selena. Selena, who died 20 years ago and is the subject of a new Netflix series, always touted Canales as a hero.
"It took 20 years to really give Laura Canales that second wind," Medrano says. "I'm so glad for this show, but what are we doing? We shouldn't wait another 20 years for more women to be recognized."
Medrano now educates other artists to preserve their items, such as costumes and posters. She says her degree will give her more authority for panels and conferences.
"I've talked about it publicly and also among other industry professionals to better help tell our stories, which was such a revolutionary thought to many and that we're seeing is being adopted more and more," she says. "Preservation equates to strengthening the fabric of our cultural identity in the United States."