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Los Tigres del Norte

Los Tigres del Norte (The Tigers of the North) is a norteño-band ensemble, from Rosa Morada, Sinaloa, Mexico. The group was started by Jorge Hernández, his brothers, and his cousins. They began recording after moving to San José, California in the late 1960s.  In the beginning, they were sponsored by a local record company, Discos Fama, who handled the recording all of their early albums.

The Tigres were at first only locally popular, but took off after Jorge and Art Walker heard a Los Angeles mariachi singer perform a song in the early 1970s about a couple of drug runners, Emilio Varela and Camelia la Texana. There had been occasional ballads (corridos) about the cross-border drug trade ever since Prohibition in the 1920s, but never a song as cinematic as this, featuring a woman smuggler who shoots the man and takes off with the money. After getting permission to record this song, Los Tigres del Norte released “Contrabando y Traición” (“Contraband and Betrayal”) in 1974. The song quickly hit on both sides of the border, inspired a series of movies, and kicked off one of the most remarkable careers in Spanish-language pop music.

In Norteño/conjunto form (a style featuring accordion that originated along the Texas border region), Los Tigres del Norte have been able to portray “real life” in a manner that strikes a chord with people across the Americas. Many of their most popular songs consist of tales or corridos about life, love, and the struggle to survive. They regularly touch on the subject of narcotics and illegal immigration, but they have also produced songs of love and betrayal. Together, the band and its public has turned norteño music into an international genre.

The band has won five Latin Grammy Awards and sold 32 million records. In 2010, the band took an important stand and made headlines by joining in a massive international boycott of the US State of Arizona, in response to the highly controversial Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.