Los Angeles — through a growing fan base, all-women mariachi teams have been making far-reaching inroads in the in the history male-dominated music genre. Your artistry has actually taken them come the White House, and also as much as Beijing because that the Olympics, and earned Grammy and also Latin Grammy Awards. They also have their very own festival, the annual International Women’s Mariachi Festival, it is taken place since 2014.“Los Angeles has historically been the facility of innovation, leadership and also opportunity for ladies in mariachi music,” said Leonor Xóchitl Pérez, the executive director the the festival and the Mariachi Women’s Foundation.

You are watching: All female mariachi band los angeles

During the 1950s and ‘60s, all-women mariachi groups from Mexico travel to Los Angeles and also played in ~ the historic Million dissension Theatre downtown. In the ‘70s, “mariachi women pioneers Rebecca Gonzales and Laura Sobrino and then in the ‘80s, Monica Treviño were offered the chance to execute alongside the world’s finest male mariachis, Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos and also Sol de Mexico,” Pérez added. Year later, in 1994, Cuban American producer Rodri J. Rodriguez hosted all-women mariachi groups at the Hollywood Bowl’s Mariachi USA Festival that attracted thousands of fans.

L.A.’s all-women bands continue to make history with each performance. Come date, they incorporate Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, ras Colibrí, Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, Mariachi las Catrinas, Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas and also the Mariachi Conservatory All-Female Ensemble. Unlike their counterparts in Mexico, which have tendency to have actually male conductors, the majority of these groups are managed and also led through the members themselves, Pérez said.

Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea (top row), Leonor Xochitl Perez, Ph.D. (top row, sixth, clockwise) and also Las Adelitas (bottom row, in red) indigenous London in ~ the global Mariachi Women’s Festival in 2018. Photo by Eddie Sakaki

Mariachi, which originated in Mexico, is affected by the rhythms and lyrics of african culture, and all the instruments long associated with the genre — the vihuela, guitarrón, guitar, harp, trumpet and also violin — developed from those that arrived from Europe.

The appearance of the mariachi women

Pérez areas the earliest reference to mariachi music at 1852.

“Through the works of a priest, us learned the mariachi music to be performed in rural locations of Mexico,” she said. “These musician performed in functions where alcohol to be consumed, and they also traveled, i m sorry at the time was not an acceptable environment for women.”

This context created what came to be a masculine musical tradition, she added.

Pérez, who grew up in eastern Los Angeles, started playing mariachi music in 1973 and also became a establishing member the female team Mariachi Mujer 2000. “We know of at least one courageous woman, Rosa Quirino, who broke that dominion of tradition, and also in 1903, as a 13-year-old, join an all-male mariachi,” she said. “Quirino ultimately led her very own group and was known to be tough, resilient, and also to lug a gun to protect herself and members of her group if she required to.”

Leonor Xochitl Perez, Ph.D., in march 20, 2019. Photo by Eddie Sakaki

Later in the 20th century, a number of events would draw more women to mariachi in the U.S., starting with the Chicano movement of the 1960s and “its focus on reclaiming and preserving social identity, roots and also traditions encouraged youth, an especially college-aged mexico Americans to listen to and perform mariachi music,” Pérez said.

The production of ethnomusicology department at colleges during the early on ’60s would also see young ladies taking to the genre without gift hindered by the masculine mariachi tradition. The Bilingual education and learning Act of 1968 then presented multilingual and also multicultural education, including Latino arts and culture, right into elementary and high schools, attracting girl to mariachi there is no regard for whether castle were raised with one appreciation for the genre.

“The start of yearly mariachi festivals that began in 1979 in san Antonio, Texas, and also included mariachi cultivate workshops,” Pérez added, “also listed greater methods for all — women included.”

Mariachi music on their terms

While today’s all-women mariachi bands in Los Angeles may be joined in your affinity because that the music — particularly the deep emotion and also storytelling the comes with it — the method each woman concerned be component of the tradition (and forging new ones) is different.

“Not every mariachi women room from the same background, ethnically, socially and also culturally,” Pérez said. The genre’s appeal is important global. In southern California, some were born into Mexican families listening to the music or take it mariachi classes together kids, when others not of mexico descent were presented to the genre together adults.

Some mexican American women originally resisted mariachi altogether, such as 24-year-old Angelica Mata, whose parents have been performing in mariachi bands because they to be teenagers. “My very first sentence to be ‘No maliachi,’ she said. “I didn’t prefer mariachi due to the fact that when ns was a kid, anytime I thought of mariachi, i thought, ‘My parents are going to leaving me through my grandma and also grandpa .’”

Angelica, her 22-year-old sister, America, and also their mom, Esperanza Juarez, are all members of the Mariachi Conservatory All-Female Ensemble. They additionally teach at their family-run Mariachi Conservatory, a community-based music program founded in 2014 through Juarez and husband, Richard Mata, in the Boyle Heights ar of Los Angeles.

“What reinvented my reasoning was when I checked out go see my parental sing and perform mariachi for the an initial time as an audience member , no backstage or turn off to the side. Ns heard them to sing a duet together, and that was the moment I said myself, ‘I have to learn exactly how to play favor this. I desire to carry out that as soon as I grow up.’”


America Mata with a young college student from her advent to violin class. Photograph courtesy that Richard Mata

The 11-member Mariachi Conservatory All-Female Ensemble arrays in period from 12 to 42. Mata theatre the guitarrón (bass) in the group, which has actually performed at the international Women’s Mariachi Festival each year. Pérez was actually the catalyst for starting the ensemble once she inquired if the conservatory had an all-female team that could perform.

“It’s yes, really beautiful to view these girls beginning at age 8 and seeing castle turn into these young women who are really empowering themselves with mariachi music and teaching the following generation,” America, a violinist and teacher in the group, said. “As who who thrived up no really seeing countless female musicians especially in mariachi, that a surreal minute seeing that totality growth.”

At mariachi conferences and other educational events, Juarez watch a greater variety of female college student participating in mariachi classes than boys. “But there’s a huge discrepancy between the females learning exactly how to beat an instrument and who gets to be in a experienced group,” she added.

Among the factors she trust women created their very own mariachi groups is because men walk not think about the women as equals in the craft, or currently all-men bands may have actually thought that by adding women, it intended making additional allowances top top the road, such as booking separate rooms.

“It’s the machismo that periodically gets in the way of letting a most the ladies that room really, really great musicians be component of those groups,” Juarez said. “Consequently, there’s been a lot an ext women who have taken on the leadership role. The female teams are representing themselves in different ways and really uniquely within each group. None of the female groups are the same; everybody has their very own uniqueness.”

Mariachi Conservatory All-Female Ensemble prepare to carry out at the worldwide Mariachi Women’s Festival’s pre-concert outdoor community stage, including Angelica Mata (far left) and sister America (third native right) with their mom, Esperanza Juarez (far right). Photograph by Eddie Sakaki

The all-string woman ensemble ras Colibrí (“The Hummingbirds”), started in 2009, started with four female musician (two violins, bass, guitar) and eventually increased to 12 by adding an ext violins, a vihuela and also guitarra de golpe.

“From the beginning, we made decision not to usage a trumpet and revert earlier to the most traditional mariachi ensemble. Trumpets to be not presented in mariachi till the 1940s,” stated founder Susie García, a violinist. “Our vocal abilities and also harmonies became more interesting and started to was standing out due to the fact that we no drowned the end by the according to horn sound.”

García has actually been play in all-women bands since 1997, beginning with Mariachi Adelitas, complied with by Mariachi las Alondras and also Mariachi Divas. In 2009, she formed Las Colibrí, i beg your pardon favors the early traditional composition that mariachi tools rather than do in the familiar traje de charro. Instead, group members opt because that “something much more feminine and festive,” letting each mrs express themselves uniquely.“Each musician attract her own color, which ns think to add a nice touch of personality to the mariachi ensemble,” García said.

Mariachi Divas, started in 1999 by Cindy Shea, is the many prolific female mariachi band in the country, having actually just exit its 16th album, “Esta Distancia,” recorded throughout quarantine. Disney make them its main mariachi ensemble 17 years ago, with continual performances in current years in ~ Disney California Adventure Park and El Capitan Theatre. With a demanding performing schedule, Mariachi Divas go not have actually a set number of members, due to the fact that the lineup needs to be flexible for all the touring and events, such as quinceañeras and also weddings, the team does. Shea likens the Divas as an “agency the divas” with members “always on rotation, for this reason nobody ever gets bored.” numerous of them have played (or play) with other female mariachi bands in the area, and earlier members also formed their very own groups.

Before beginning Divas, Shea was a member that Mariachi ras Alondras in the so late ‘90s, which recruited her to pat trumpet. Prior to that, she was part of salsa musician Yari More’s orchestra at period 18. The orchestra backed such icons as Celia Cruz. Shea is that Italian and Irish heritage however was exposed to many Latin music layouts while examining music in Miami and remembers discovering countless mariachi musicians were of various or mixed heritages: Mexican, mexican American, Puerto Rican and Cuban. “And I want to celebrate that in Divas. I didn’t desire a team that sounded favor everybody else,” she said.

See more: Alek Skarlatos Dancing With The Stars, Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold Dance Freestyle

“I constantly thought that everybody’s individuality should be commemorated — instead of closing the door top top me like numerous did due to the fact that I to be a gringa — ns didn’t want to execute that come others. To me, this music to be beautiful, and also I want to showcase the love everyone have the right to have for it and to create brand-new sounds,” which has actually garnered the group two Grammy Awards and also a full of 11 nominations because that Best local Mexican Music Album (including Tejano).

Pérez approximates there are about 25 all-female mariachi bands in the U.S. She watch this number farming “with an ext funding in training, programs and services” for girls and women. “and higher understanding of exactly how the connections and skills developed in mariachi performance room a catalyst for better social, economic and professional opportunity.”


Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea and Leonor Xochitl Perez, Ph.D. Picture by Eddie Sakaki

The Mata household of the Mariachi Conservatory agrees that resources is the utmost importance, especially in Los Angeles. “Going come mariachi conferences has really offered me a various perspective of the L.A. Mariachi step versus Texas, Arizona and brand-new Mexico. We view the difference not just in the level the a mariachi musician compared to someone in Vegas, as a prime example,” Angelica said. “They have whatever they need, including budgets for conferences whereby they can accomplish one-on-one through these master from Mexico. They have actually that access, while someone from L.A. Has to travel and have that expense.”

This renders her family even more determined to preserve mariachi’s legacy, especially for young girls.“I see that due to the fact that we room so passionate, we’re very much resilient when that comes down to mariachi music,” she said. “So we feel the duty of finding out from whomever us can and bringing that back to our community.”