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Santiago Jimenez Receives Prestigious Musician Award

Representative Ciro D. Rodriguez

Mr. Speaker, today I recognize Santiago Jimenez of San Antonio, Texas, who is being recognized for his accomplishments as a singer and accordion player by the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Heritage Fellowship is an award given to a select group of people, reflecting the diverse heritage and cultural tradition that have become a part of our society.

Local artists are nominated by a member of the community, in recognition of the artist's excellence in a particular area. Each year only a select group of these artists are honored. The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded only slightly more than 222 National Heritage Awards.

Mr. Jimenez plays a style of music known as conjunto, which has both German and Mexican roots. His music interest began when his father would take him to hear German polka bands in New Braunfels, Texas. At the age of fifteen, he began performing professionally at weddings, clubs, and traditional community settings. Following his father's example, he developed creatively and incorporated a wider audience. In 1958, at the age of seventeen, with his brother he recorded El Principe y el Rey del Acordeon. Since then, he has made sixty recordings of more than 700 pieces of music on several different labels.

He started Chief Records, his own label, in order to give younger musicians the opportunity to have their music heard. He works to help others in an industry that has experienced barriers to entry. Mr. Jimenez has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, and South America to bring the world of conjunto music to millions.

I join the City of San Antonio and the National Endowment for the Arts in recognizing Santiago Jimenez on his accomplishment as a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship award.

[Taken from the Congressional Record, 13 October 2000, page E1783.]