Las Tesoros de San Antonio—Beatriz (La Paloma del Norte) Llamas and Blanquita (Blanca Rosa) Rodríguez
Las Tesoros de San Antonio are a group of elder women performers who teamed up to preserve Mexican and bicultural musical expressions through their singing and storytelling. Janet “Perla Tapatia” Cortez, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas, Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez, and Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri each had incredible singing careers that soared both locally and internationally in the 1940s–1960s before tapering off in later years. Through the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, these women reemerged and teamed up as the group Las Tesoros in the 2000s. Although Janet “Perla Tapatia” Cortez and Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri passed away in recent years, Llamas and Rodríguez continue to perform and continue the legacy of the group.
All four women grew up in the Westside of San Antonio, Texas. Each singer, with her personal style and grace, forms part of this unique ensemble that represents the important sound of the Mexico/Texas border. They were all inspired by and connected to many other important Tejana singers, including the great Lydia Mendoza (1982 NEA National Heritage Fellow) and the internationally renowned Eva Garza.
Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas was born in 1938 in Aguascalientes, México. When she was 11, she moved with her mother and sister to Edinburg, Texas, to join her father. In 1951, the Llamas family moved to San Antonio and Llamas entered her first talent contest. While Eva Ybarra (2017 NEA National Heritage Fellow) bested her, she entered another contest and won, beginning her career singing on radio shows, and touring with different musical acts. Llamas gained attention from the owners of Sombrero Records and began recording singles. She worked with KCOR—one the country’s first full-time, Spanish-language radio stations—sharing the stage with Alberto and Arturo López, the latter to whom she later married. In 1995, she was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame and in 1999 she was inducted into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame.
Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where she began singing at the age of five. At age 13, Rodríguez competed in her first performance at the Teatro Guadalupe where she won first place, which led to singing on KCOR radio and at Teatro Zaragoza. She toured the United States and Mexico, performing with groups like Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Mariachi América, Mariachi de Ramón Palomar, and Los Reyes de Jalisco. Rodríguez has also toured with singing stars like Amalia Mendoza, Charro Avitia, Vicente Fernández, José Alfredo Jiménez, and Juan Mendoza. In addition to performing, Rodríguez is an active music teacher, instructing and coaching her students in singing techniques.
Today, Las Tesoros de San Antonio are part of the select group of Texas Commission on the Arts Texas Touring Roster.
By Esperanza Peace & Justice Center