Little Joe (singer)

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Little Joe
Birth nameJosé María De León Hernández
Born (1940-10-17) October 17, 1940 (age 78)
Bee County, Texas, United States
OriginNixon, Texas, United States
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, piano
Years active1955-present
Associated actsDavid Coronado & the Latinaires, Casas Family, Little Joe & the Latinaires, Little Joe, Johnny, & La Familia,[i] Little Joe y la Familia

José María De León Hernández, known professionally as Little Joe is an American tejano performer who grew up in Temple, Texas, and lives in San Antonio.


Little Joe is of Mexican descent. Hernández told the Stockton Record in 2015 that he was born "in a three-wall, dirt-floor garage ... on a cold stormy night," the seventh of 13 children. His father, Salvador, was known as "La Cotorra" (the parakeet) and was a troubadour. His mother, Amelia DeLeon, was a trained pianist. "My dad and aunts all played instruments and sang," he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise (Nov. 18, 2015). We'd go to parties that would last until three in the morning.

Hernández got his start at 13 when his cousin, David Coronado, recruited him to play guitar for his Latinaires. The Latinaires eventually became known as Little Joe and the Latinaires. Today he is usually joined by his band La Familia.[i] In 1992, their album 16 de Septiembre earned the Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Performance. In 2008, Little Joe once again won a Grammy for Best Tejano Album of the year for Before the Next Teardrop Falls. Other Grammy nominated albums include Timeless (1988), 1993's Que Paso (1993), Little Joe y La Familia 2000 (1999), and Celebration of Life Vol.1 & Vol.2 (2003).

Hernández has said he was greatly influenced by Beto Villa, the originator of orquesta Tejana that generally features trumpets and saxophones, as opposed to conjunto, which relies on accordions. As a member of Texas’ Tejano Hall of Fame, he’s been entertaining audiences around the world for more than 50 years, on 70 albums and in countless shows. His style has been called Tejano, Tex-Mex, Norteno, Chicano, La Onda. Hernández told the Stockton Record in 2015 that originally, "it was just multicultural music in two languages." Hernandez, who grew up with 12 brothers and sisters as the only non-African-American family in a “totally black” neighborhood, told The Record: “All I heard every day were black artists. At home, it was country music's three ‘great Hanks': "Williams, Thompson and Snow". It was always part of the atmosphere. Part of my DNA.” He’s known as “King of the Brown Sound."[1] Hernández has said he is inspired by jazz. "I love jazz," he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "If I could have been a jazz musician, I would have preferred that." Hernández has been known to infuse his music not only with jazz, but also country, pop and classical music. One of his most popular recorded songs, "Las Nubes," incorporates violins and other strings.

Hernandez recently founded the Little Joe Diabetes and Prevention organization and has organized walkathons in San Antonio.[2][3][4]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b Little Joe's band, La Familia, has also been called Johnny y La Familia, bearing the name of Little Joe's brother, Johnny Hernández (né Juan De León Hernández; born 1944), vocalist, producer, and recording engineer.


  1. ^ Stockton Record, September 9, 2015
  2. ^ Harris, Craig. "Little Joe – Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  3. ^ Albuquerque Journal Nov. 20, 2015
  4. ^ Stockton Record, Sept. 9, 2015