SAN BENITO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — One genre of music that represents the Hispanic culture is that of conjunto. 

It has been passed down from generation to generation and started right here in the Rio Grande Valley.  

“The way it started was a fusion of the accordion and the bajo sexto,” explains Pedro Avila, the vice president of the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum.  

The Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum is tucked away in downtown San Benito which is known as the birthplace of conjunto music. 

“You can’t go to a quince or a wedding and not hear the music and not hit the dance floor but this way you get to learn who the musicians are,” said Patricia Avila, president of the museum.

Avila said conjunto runs in her blood.

“My father is Rey Avila, he was the founder of the museum in 2001, he was a historian at heart,” she said.

Rey Avila was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. He died in 2019. However, for the 30 years before his passing he dedicated his life to preserving the history of conjunto music. 

“Since 1994 he collected all the conjunto memorabilia, the stories and he wanted this museum so badly,” Patricia said. “He got his nonprofit status and he made it happen.”

Now, Patricia and her brother Pedro run the museum surrounded by memories that flood the halls, from all walks of life and as early as the 1930s. 

“Growing up, I remember my dad taking us to the folklife festival and that’s where my brothers and sisters and I gained the love of culture,”  Patricia said.

A culture that is deeply rooted across the Valley and Hispanics worldwide. 

“It is 100% part of our heritage, we give thanks to the people that invented it, this accordion was German, we hear it went all the way to Japan with a small accordion…this instrument from one row to three rows…now there’s multiple,” Pedro said.

But the museum goes beyond the music — it is a way to go back in time and learn about Hispanic history and the way of life back then. 

“A lot of them will tell you they weren’t allowed to eat in restaurants when they traveled, they were shunned at, this is big, this is something bigger than the music of conjunto,” Pedro said.  

It is a legacy you can see for yourself. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, located at 402. West Robertson Street in San Benito. 

“These are the pioneers that started an evolution of something new to South Texas and we need to be proud of our heritage, proud of the music they brought to the world,” Patricia.

The museum is 100% donation-based. To learn about the music lessons offered by the museum, visit their Facebook page, Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum.