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The '90s have been called the explosion or "gold rush" years of Tejano music and by the end of that decade, some critics were moaning that the piles of dollars pumped into the genre by larger record companies had wound up all but killing the music. Many of the bands that had helped spark this dynamic period in the ongoing fusion of Mexican and American sounds had broken up by the year 2000, and the popular Xelencia was no exception. The band was originally formed by Randy Caballero and was immediately signed to Capitol. The leader had been a music enthusiast since he was a little boy, singing and playing the piano to entertain relatives. His first major professional job was with the Latin gospel band Conjunto Bernal, with which he toured throughout North and South America. From there, he joined the suspiciously named la Mafia who either earned the Grammy award they walked off with in 1988, or made an offer the judging board could not refuse. Three years later, he left to form Xelencia and the new band immediately began building a following. Early on, they were awarded the prize for Most Promising Band of the Year at the annual Tejano Music Awards. The band toured Europe in 1998. The success over the course of some ten albums in seven years also led to Caballero's position producing and recording other acts for Capitol. In the late '90s, Caballero dropped out of Xelencia and formed his own private Studio Masters, as well as a new band, Chilli Willi. Xelencia originally emphasized frontman and leader Caballero. The first three albums by this group feature only his photograph on the front covers, for example. More of a group identity evolved through later albums, including stronger involvement from bandmember David DeAnda. One of the original members of Xelencia, DeAnda began his career as lead vocalist with the family band Los Chamacos de Raul DeAnda, also featuring his first cousin Jamie DeAnda. Accordion giant Albert Zamora was a member of DeAnda's next band, Los Chavolos, which lasted up until about 1988 when the unit that would become Xelencia began forming. DeAnda would carry on with the band for several years after original frontman Caballero left, almost to the point where some Tejano fans were afraid he would never appear as a soloist or leader again. In 2000, he proved them wrong and in a surprise move went back to his musical roots in conjunto with the new band David DeAnda y la Ley. The musicians in this outfit include players on the traditional bajo sexto, as well as accordion. The group's first album was entitled La Chancia and is on the Discos MM label. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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