Carmen Hernández Marroquín, a member of the noted Tejana sisters duet, Carmen y Laura, was born in Kingsville on October 16, 1921. She married Armando Marroquín, a legendary Tejano music record producer, on November 20, 1936, and the couple had two sons and lived in Alice, Texas.
Marroquín grew up in a musically-inclined family but never imagined she would become a professional singer until the advent of World War II. She once noted that she and her sister Laura Hernández Cantu learned to sing in harmony by positioning themselves in separate rooms at home and listening carefully to each other’s voice.
Just after World War II, when her husband Armando Marroquín determined that he would supply his own records for his jukebox business, Carmen found that her kitchen had been transformed into a studio with herself and her sister Laura as the first recording artists. The duet’s first “hit” was “Se Me Fue Mi Amor” (“My Love Went Away”), a song lamenting a man’s overseas deployment. After her husband and Paco Betancourt established Ideal Records in Alice, Texas, in 1946, Carmen y Laura went on to record hundreds of songs for the company. Such famous Tejano musicians as Narciso Martínez and Beto Villa and his orquesta often accompanied them. The duet was among the first to introduce blues and swing to Tejana singers’ repertoire. In addition to enjoying an extensive recording career, Marroquín and her sister toured and brought Tejano music to audiences in Chicago, Kansas City, California, and other Southwestern locations. The duet remained active well into the 1960s.
Carmen y Laura later appeared on the CD Tejano Roots: The Women (1946–1970), produced by Arhoolie Records and released in 1992 for its Tejana singers series.
In the 1950s Marroquín opened La Villita Dance Hall in Alice and operated it until 2005. The Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame recognized La Villita for its historical significance to Tejano music in 2007. The Conjunto Music Hall of Fame, the Texas Music Hall of Fame, the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame, and the Smithsonian Folkways Museum also honored Marroquín for her contributions to the duet of Carmen y Laura.
Carmen Hernández Marroquín died in Alice, Texas, which was her home for many years, on June 11, 2010. A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church there, and she was buried at New Collins Cemetery.