Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Mexican-American Studies Program Honors Johnny Canales

Published: May 09, 2017

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Mexican-American Studies Program Honors Johnny Canales

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Mexican-American studies program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi presented entertainer Johnny Canales with a “Mexican-American Lifetime Achievement Award" during a concert and dance in his honor at the university on May 4.

Canales devoted his life to promoting Mexican-American culture and music and seeking out and promoting talent that might not have been noticed by mainstream entertainment media – including the Queen of Tejano, Selena, by her thirteenth birthday. His show aired on Univision in the United States, Televisa in Mexico until 1996 and TuVision until 2009. Since then, Canales has continued working to keep live music by Mexican-American artists in the limelight. This summer, the Robstown native will be immortalized on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

Dr. Anthony Quiroz, Professor of History at the Island University, and Mr. Maclovio Perez, meteorologist for KRIS 6 News, presented Canales with the award. 

“When we started out with our TV show, we only had two cameras,” said Canales. “The next year we had eight cameras! We wanted to reach 100 million (Mexican-Americans) in the U.S.!”

Speaking in both Spanish and English, Canales and his wife, Nora, kept the crowd in stitches and entertained. They also expressed appreciation for and support of the Island University’s commitment to Mexican-American culture and music via its academic programs and events. 

“In history, if you want to know what happened, you need a written document,” said Perez. “We need to document what is happening, and Johnny Canales, via his longtime show, which now runs on KRIS, did just that. It is not about musicians tonight, or a TV show, or someone who is on the radio. It’s about someone who is interested in our growth, our culture and our history.”

 Quiroz thanked Canales for his contributions to both music and culture and the continuing inspiration to create and maintain culture-focused academic programs.

“Though we are an Island, we are not culturally isolated,” said Quiroz. “We open our doors to the rich Mexican-American culture that surrounds us in the Coastal Bend and hope that tonight is the first of many events like this.”

The evening included the reading of a statement from State Representative Abel Herrero, which was followed by a standing ovation, and presentation of a montage of scenes from the singer, bandleader and television host’s life.

During the event, Interim President Kelly Quintanilla said, “Today I speak for all of us – faculty, staff, and students – we are incredibly excited to be here today hosting the ‘Mexican-American Lifetime Achievement Award’ in honor of Johnny Canales. Many of our students – 46 percent to be exact – are Hispanic, and we are privileged and honored to serve the Mexican-American community.”

Click here for more information on the minor in Mexican-American studies at A&M-Corpus Christi or contact anthony.quiroz@tamucc.edu.