Music • Elida Reyna

In a post-Selena world, her raw, seductive songs are transforming a musical genre.

If you listen to the lyrics of the song “Duele,” you can see why 27-year-old Elida Reyna now dominates tejano music like no woman since Selena. The title means “It Hurts,” and the song, which she co-wrote, is a defiant mariachi ballad that describes a woman who is devastated when she learns that her man has another lover. She and her girlfriends hit the bars to drown her sorrows in tequila. That may sound like any number of country and western weepers, but no Tejana had ever described life that rawly before, and Elida compounds the shock by singing of her open wounds with an unabashedly erotic tone. “It’s not meant in a vulgar way,” she says of the single that won song of the year and Mexican regional song of the year for her band Elida y Avante at this year’s Tejano Music Awards, while she won female vocalist and female entertainer of the year. “It was to the point. It was controversial, but at the same time, it was something people were ready to hear. I was kind of afraid in the beginning, because I’d never pushed things to that length before.”

In fact, since she emerged on the tejano scene in 1994, Elida has made a career out of pushing things, and not always in the direction of her apparent best interests. Born in San Antonio and raised in the Valley town of Mercedes, Elida was an education student at the University of Texas-Pan American, in Brownsville, when she formed Elida y Avante (or EYA, as its members call it) with bassist Noel Hernandez, accordionist Cande Aguilar, Jr., and a drummer who is no longer with the band. Even in the beginning, they were making unusual moves. Their music was puro tejano, rejecting English-language crossovers and other experiments of the era. And they promoted themselves as a band rather than as a solo star with backup musicians. “I felt people would take us more seriously,”

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