- Cathy Ragland
(b General Terán, Nuevo León, México, June 29, 1911; d Donna, TX, Dec 1, 1990). Mexican accordionist, songwriter, and composer, active in the United States. Ayala was born into a musical family: his father played clarinet and accordion, his sisters played violin, and his brothers played accordion and guitar. In order to make a living, the Ayalas crossed the border to live in Donna, Texas, working in agriculture. Ayala accompanied his father at the age of ten on the tambora (small hand drum) playing polkas and huapangos in traditional Mexican tamborliero (drum and clarinet ensemble) style. He briefly played guitar in a local orquesta and with popular accordionist, Chon Alanis. Greatly influenced by Alanis, he switched to the accordion in the mid-1930s. Though he played professionally in the Rio Grande Valley region, he did not record until 1947, more than ten years after his contemporaries Narciso Martínez and Santiago Jiménez. His first recordings were made for an early Mexican American record label, Mira, which eventually became Falcón Records. His recordings earned him the title “El monarca del acordeón” (the Monarch of the Accordion) for his rapid-fire, uniquely syncopated playing style and eloquent articulation. He is also recognized for following Jiménez’s lead by featuring the ...