Early Years

Having been inspired by talented accordionists of the late 1940s and early 1950s like Narciso Martinez, Valerio Longoria, and Tony De La Rosa, Paulino dreamed of joining their ranks. When a friend of his received an accordion as a gift, it was Paulino who spent the most time practicing on it. Shortly after, his brother Eloy Bernal received a bajo sexto from their father, and the duo’s musical fate seemed sealed.

Born on 22 June 1939 in Raymondville, Texas, Paulino Bernal kicked off his musical career as an accordion player and singer alongside his brother, bajo sexto player and vocalist, Eloy. To support their large family, the two young brothers dropped out of school and instead traveled from bar to bar and performed the lively polkas and rancheras of Conjunto Bernal.

Having started from humble beginnings, they were soon able to contribute to their family after they attracted the attention of a musical entrepreneur Armando Marroquín who signed them with his Ideal label in 1954.

They went on to record numerous cassettes and CDs, featuring hits such as Mi Único Camino and Sentimiento Y Rencor, both from late 1958. While the group included a variety of other musicians during its 25-year history, it was the iconic sound of Paulino and Eloy that defined the group’s sound and ultimately solidified Conjunto Bernal as one of the most influential groups in the history of Conjunto or Tejano music.

Switch To Gospel Music

In the late ’60s, the Bernal brothers became born-again Christians and made the transition to gospel music. As Paulino founded Bernal Records during this time, his brother Eloy, unfortunately, passed away in a car accident outside of Corpus Christi in 1998.

While musicians like Oscar Hernandez continued the Bernal Brothers’ legacy of excellence, Paulino dedicated himself to Bernal Christian Records, even hosting a regional TV music show. Now, having been fuelled by his newfound faith, Paulino once again resumed his career as an accordionist, only now in the service of Christianity.

Bernal Christian Records has since grown to include an entire ministry, radio station, and record label that promotes Christian talent and spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paulino later commented that “people who knew me before lament that I’m not playing anymore. They don’t seem to realize that I play more now than I ever did before!”