Amanda Reyna

Amanda Reyna, also known as “Gabbanelli Girl,” is a button accordion player form Fremont who specializes in Mexican and Tejano styles of folk and popular music. She is currently a member of  Grupo Tridente, winners of “El Idolo del Pueblo” award from Radio Latina in Indianapolis.

Both Amanda and her parents were born in Fremont. She was introduced to the accordion at age 9 by Manuel Arriaga, her maternal grandfather, who was an amateur player originally from San Antonio Texas. Her parents supported her interest by buying her an inexpensive keyboard accordion where she first learned the basics. However, as her interest grew, the family pulled together to buy her a better instrument. They raised money selling tamales, and with a contribution from her paternal grandfather they bought her a professional Gabbanelli button accordion.

She began playing accordion in public at age 12 by sitting-in with other bands, including a group formed by her cousins, and she began to get attention as a child talent in the region. In the year 2000, at age 13, she formed her own group, Amanda Reyna y Sus Reyes, managed by her mother, and she recorded her first CD “A Poco No Puedo.” The group played Mexican “norteñas” and “corridos,” and it lasted for 3 years, after which she took time off to finish high school.

In 2005, she played a brief stint with “Arce Musical,” a group form Florida that was touring Michigan for the summer. They specialized in a broad spectrum of styles including “duranguense,” “cumbias,” “corridos,” and “conjunto.” She had to commute 2 hours for rehearsals and performances, which was a challenge. At the end of the season she went back to a day job in her hometown.

Two years later, in 2007, while attending a cousin’s wedding, she met the band Invencible. They had been hired to play the reception. She asked to sit-in with them, and felt a resurgence of interest in performing again. In July of that year, she opened an Internet social network account on YouTube and began to post home videos of herself playing accordion along with records by her favorite artists form Mexico, including Juan Villarreal of Los Cachorros, Ramón Ayala, Los Invasores de Nuevo León, and from Texas, including Eddie González and Albert Zamora. Having no formal musical training or knowledge of music theory, she taught herself to play by watching other videos and listening to records.

The group Invencible, now minus their accordion player, had formed a new band named Grupo Tridente. They noticed Amanda’s progress on YouTube and invited her to join their group. It was a decision worth some consideration. The group is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which represents a frequent two-hour commute for her. She also had to learn all their repertoire and quit a steady job. She did, and the decision proved to be a profitable one. Upon joining, after only three rehearsals, she worked steadily, every weekend for the next three months. The group also won the juried competition “El Idolo del Pueblo” organized by Radio Latina in Indianapolis, which awarded the group radio airtime that helped raise the regional profile of the group and studio time to make an album that the group expects to release in 2011.

Amanda’s future plans include working part-time as a hospital receptionist during the band’s slow season, teaching accordion, and perhaps moving to Indianapolis where she believes there may be more support for her career.

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