Rafael Vasquez was born in San Antonio, Texas –the heart of the Tejano music scene. His childhood was spent in San Antonio and California. During his twenties, Vasquez performed throughout the Southwest with Little Joe y la Familia, the first Tejano band to sign with a major label and the first to win a Grammy. He also played with Sunny Ozuna and the Sunliners, another major Tejano act, and with Augustin Ramírez, who was inducted into the Tejano Hall of Fame in 1997.
Since 1981 Rafael Vasquez has lived in Nashville where he performs regularly with his band, the San Rafael Band, and his trio, the San Rafael Trio. Vasquez is a talented songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist who is comfortable with a variety of instruments and styles ranging from conjunto’s bajo sexto to jazz to classical to blues and rock. He is also respected as a bandleader by the local music community. The San Rafael Band has played such local events as Cheekwood’s El Día de los Muertos, First Fridays, the 2003 July 4th Celebration at Riverfront Park, Wine on the River, a Taste of Music City, and the Tennessee State Fair. The Band has opened for Michael McDonald and Kevin Eubanks at the Franklin Jazz Festival and for Los Lobos at the Uptown Mix.
In the last few years, Vasquez has begun to work with students at Belmont University and in the Metro Nashville Public Schools to share his knowledge of music and Hispanic culture. At Belmont he assisted Professor David Herrera with Música Caliente, the first project of the Belmont’s student record label, Acklen Records. For his work with that project Vasquez received a plaque of appreciation from the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He also participated in the first Belmont Latino Street Fair held in April 2005. Recently, he demonstrated guitar techniques for students at Glencliff High School.
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Rafael Vasquez is a tremendous asset to the Música de la gente – Music of the People program. His professionalism, excellent musicianship, hands-on experiences with Tejano, conjunto, and norteño music, and involvement in the local Latino community make him invaluable.
Biography courtesy of Mainstreet McMinnville