Corpus Christi is known around the world for its oil, natural gas and agricultural exports. We also export talent such as Farrah Fawcett and Selena, but others paved the way long before.
It was the 50s when rock and roll was spreading fast across the nation.
In South Texas, native Tejanos with an ear for English and the spirit of Tex-Mex sought to create their own musical style.
"I started in a cantina. We played every night in a cantina," said Oscar Martinez.
Oscar, fluent in the indigenous native tongue of "Tex-Mex" started his own band in the 50s, touring the U.S. along side some of the biggest acts at the time.
Oscar's big break as a musician came in the 60s with a song that told the story of a love torn Texan, "El Tejano Enamorado."
"In your house nobody likes me because I'm Texan. I did the lyrics in English too," said Martinez.
A big hit written and produced by Oscar.
A song that went on to become a "Tejano anthem;" re-recorded and re-released by a multitude of artists to follow.
As the years passed, Oscar cut back on his tours.
By the 90s he was retired and his gigs were only a select few.
"Look. This is the first book that I made," said Martinez.
One day he decided to write about all his experiences, including lyrics and musical scores to some of his favorite songs.
And with that emerged his book "Tejano Music Talk."
Oscar's illustrations caught his daughters attention.
"I had three pictures in water paint. She came and all of a sudden took them and made copies. She sold the copies and brought me the money," said Martinez. "She said 'this is yours.'"
"What? She said 'that's your money.' For what? 'For your pictures. I'm selling your pictures.'"
His transformation from musical genius to artist had begun.
Soon, Oscar was cranking out his paintings and just as fast as he did... they sold.
As a tribute, Oscar has painted portraits of many Tejano artists.
"I painted them all; starting with that guy who is in prison." Martinez said. "Joe Lopez, Jimmy Gonzalez, Little Joe, Alfonso Ramos, and Ruben Ramos.
The list he says goes on and on. So many, he planned to put them all in a book.
One day to his surprise, someone came knocking at his door.
"Some people from Texas State University came to my house to speak with me," he stated. "We'll make that book. They have all the equipment to make and publish the book and we agreed."
The next few months will be busy for Oscar Martinez.
A documentary of his life, produced by New York based "Paradox Smoke Productions" will debut in Austin.
Also in Austin at the Emma Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 80 of Oscar's paintings are on display until March 30th.
And on June 8th, Oscar will get his own star on the South Texas Walk of Fame.
A fitting tribute to a man who sings about his beloved city.
"The Corpus Christi rose is going to get you, it's got the sparkling by the sea. One visit to the town and it'll embrace you and this is where you want to be."
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