Martinez, Celia Mireles (1915–1976)

By: Steve Dean and Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: Biography

Published: July 5, 2017


Celia Mireles Martinez, pioneering Tejana singer, was born on July 17, 1915, in San Antonio, Texas. She was the daughter of Pantaleon Mireles and Donaciana (Guerra) Mireles and grew up in a large family. Celia Mireles had a brief but significant music career as a ranchera star who wrote and performed her own songs and played twelve-string guitar. On October 15, 1934, she made her first recording for Vocalion Records in San Antonio. Her six songs included “Prietito Pestañas Chinas.” She recorded two other Vocalion sessions in San Antonio on August 29 and August 30, 1935. A contemporary of Tejana singer Lydia Mendoza, Celia Mireles has often been compared to Mendoza, but while Mendoza’s career flourished, Mireles slipped into obscurity. According to family descendants, Celia's career as a singing recording artist came to an end after she met and married Lino Martinez, who forced her to quit her musical endeavors. Celia Mireles Martinez died at Santa Rosa Medical Center in San Antonio on September 22, 1976. Her death certificate listed her as a housewife, and her obituary in the San Antonio Express made no mention of her earlier music career. Celia, a Catholic, was buried in San Fernando Cemetery No. 2.

The Vocalion recordings of Celia Mireles were preserved by Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records, as part of the Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and American Recordings at the University of California, Los Angeles. The sixteen songs include such titles as “Te Adoro Tanto,” “Y Ahora Lo Veras,” and “Olvida.”

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“Celia Mireles,” The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and American Recordings (http://frontera.library.ucla.edu/artists/celia-mireles), accessed June 29, 2017. San Antonio Express, September 24, 1976. San Antonio Express-News, October 13, 2015.

Categories:

  • Music
  • Genres (Conjunto, Tejano, and Border)
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Women

Time Periods:

  • Great Depression

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Steve Dean and Laurie E. Jasinski, “Martinez, Celia Mireles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/martinez-celia-mireles.

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July 5, 2017

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