The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has selected award-winning Tejano singer-songwriter Shelly Lares as its 2023-2024 artist-in residence in the UTSA School of Music. Lares’ role builds on UTSA’s 50-plus year history of excellence in music education and research, and is a key step in accelerating the School of Music’s vision to develop a world-class education, research and training center that celebrates contemporary music.
With a career spanning more than four decades and 25 albums, Lares is one of the most enduring artists on the Tejano music scene. The San Antonio native is internationally recognized for her powerfully resonant voice and charismatic stage presence.
As UTSA’s artist-in-residence, Lares will lecture in music technology classes to help students master innovative recording and editing techniques. Additionally, she will coach UTSA vocal students, including the university’s mariachi ensemble, to enhance their Tejano-style abilities. At the same time, she will help UTSA conceptualize programming to develop world-class musicians in contemporary Latin styles.
“I am extremely honored to be the artist-in-residence for such a prestigious university,” shared Lares. “I am excited to be part of the growth of the music program. Especially to share my 40 years of experience with aspiring musicians, artists, songwriters and music producers and to be able to teach from the true hardknocks of the music industry. It is important to me to make sure my culture of Tejano music continues to grow and thrive into the next generation.”
“UTSA is a Hispanic Serving Institution that is committed to advancing the arts for our students and our community,” said Glenn Martinez, dean of the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts. “There is no better place than here in San Antonio to train and uplift the next generation of Latin artists. We are thrilled to welcome Shelly to the faculty and look forward to collaborating with her in developing a dynamic and innovative environment that attracts Tejano musicians from across the nation and preserves Tejano music.”
Nicknamed Little Miss Dynamite for her diverse talents, Lares began recording music professionally at age 10 with Orquestra (The Hot Tamales band), a game-changing experience that introduced her to Tejano music. Later that year, Lares met then up-and-coming Tejano vocalist Selena Quintanilla-Perez and the pair became best of friends.
Lares stayed with Orquestra for four years, recording 45 records before embarking on her own musical career and signing with Manny Guerra. She recorded with Manny Music from 1989 to 1995. Her fifth album, Quiero Ser Tu Amante (1994) became a breakthrough and landed on the Latin Album Top 40. Her biggest hit, “Soy Tu Amor,” co-written with JJ Reyes, was the most frequently played Latin song of 1994.
Then, after signing with Sony, Lares’ self-titled 1996 album peaked at 35 on the Top Latin Albums chart. Its single, “Siempre Lo Esperare,” reached No. 18 on the Regional Mexican Songs chart. Lares released two more albums during the 1990s: Aqui Me Encuentro (1997) and Donde Hay Fuego (1998) while touring and writing songs for other artists.
In the 2000s, Lares created “Mil Besos,” her final album for Sony, which enabled her to record in Nashville alongside country super star Vince Gill, who was featured on guitar and vocals.
Her 2002 album “3 Veces” was her debut for Tejas Records. The album garnered significant regional airplay and sales. Lares’ next album, “Encore”, enabled her to re-record her earliest hits using digital technology.
Today, Lares is the producer for her personal label, Shellshock Records 3, overseeing recording, manufacturing, distribution and sales. Additionally, she is scouting and signing new talent for her label.
“Shelly Lares is an inspired artist with a brilliant career. She has won many national music awards, entertained thousands of fans and reached impressive music sales,” said José Rosario, former vice president of Sony Music Regional Mexican and Tejano Divisions (Los Angeles) and current President/CEO of Latin Grove News. “Her entrance into the UTSA School of Music program as artist-in-residence is exciting, promising and innovative. UTSA students will gain new, rich insights into the world of music and the music business through the treasure of Shelly Lares’ artistry, inspiration and real-life experience as a music superstar.”
To prepare students for successful commercial music careers, Lares will share the lessons she has learned throughout her career, drawing on her talents as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist.
“Shelly is an icon in the Tejano music scene and is an exemplar of the type of faculty artists students learn from and train alongside when they attend UTSA,” said Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and director of the UTSA School of Music. “Shelly is so well-versed in all aspects of the music industry that she will have an impact in our music marketing, music technology and performance classes, which is exactly the kind of bold impact an artist-in-residence of this caliber can have on our students.”
Lares is the recipient of several Tejano Music Awards, Pura Vida Awards, Cyber Awards and My Tejano Awards. Lares has received three Grammy nominations for her work. She received the Premios Tejano Mundial award presented by the Tejano Music Recording Academy to recognize lifetime achievements. Lares is also the recipient of the Legacy Award by the Human Rights Campaign in 2023.
The UTSA School of Music was established in 2022 with a drive to become one of the top music schools in the nation. The school offers academic programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels as well as master’s certificates in instrumental performance and music pedagogy. Graduates of the school are teaching in public schools and universities, attending prestigious graduate schools, conducting professional ensembles, performing in major orchestras, producing television programs and winning prestigious performance competitions.
In 2020, UTSA Associate Professor Sonya Aleman offered “Selena: A Mexican American Identity and Experience,” a first-of-its-kind course exploring various topics relating to Selena’s career, image, music, the Spanish language and Mexican American identity.
UTSA is a Hispanic Serving Institution where 59% of students identify as Hispanic and nearly 45% will be the first in their families to earn a college degree. Through a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, the university serves as an artistic, music and cultural hub for academic coursework and research examining the Latino population.