New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Mariachi Herencia de México, an ensemble of students from Chicago's immigrant barrios, has scored a surprise hit with their debut album of traditional Mexican music. Nuestra Herencia (Our Heritage) ranked No. 2 in its first week on iTunes' Latin chart, defying a music industry trend and pointing to a revival in recorded mariachi music.
The album, released on May 17, is believed to be the first major mariachi recording released in the U.S. by a student ensemble, with members ranging in age from 11 to 18. It was produced and arranged by L.A.'s mariachi master, Jose Hernández, who calls the project "one of those labor of love things." Much of that love and labor came from César Maldonado, an investment banker whose most important startup was a non-profit foundation that promoted mariachi music instruction in Chicago
public schools, creating a classroom incubator for the talent on this album.
In a historic collaboration, the album features guest musicians from some of the most respected mariachi groups from both sides of the border. It includes vocal contributions by members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Los Camperos, Sol de México, and the all-female group Reyna de Los Ángeles.
Nuestra Herencia was released in time to qualify for this year's Latin GRAMMY competition and features tribute medleys to two of the genre's greatest stars: Juan Gabriel
and José Alfredo Jiménez.
"I tell people that mariachi is a sleeping giant in this country," says Hernández. "A lot of people in the mainstream don't realize how big mariachi has become in the schools. It's really growing."
In Chicago, Mariachi Herencia de México was purely a barrio creation.
The band emerged from a plucky non-profit, the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, that pushed a cultural agenda in the schools. It was started in 2013 by Cesar Maldonado, a determined investment banker whose entrepreneurial spirit was aimed at doing good for his old neighborhood.
"I believe in the impact of the arts, especially when the art form is relevant. And this art form is completely relevant to Chicago's growing Mexican and Mexican American communities," says Maldonado.
Maldonado, who still lives in his old neighborhood, decided to make good on his convictions. With the blessing of Chicago's arts-focused leader, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and support from a network of local businesses, a program of mariachi music instruction was launched.
The group performs in major mariachi festivals, including upcoming events in Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles, Santa
Barbara, and Guadalajara, Mexico's mariachi capital and recently signed with IMG Artists. Debut concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Joe's Pub in New York City are now on the schedule.
ARTIST TOUR SCHEDULE:
August 4 Los Angeles, CA La Fonda de Los Camperos
August 5 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara
Mariachi Festival / S.B. Bowl
August 20 New York, NY Joe's Pub
Aug 25- Sept 3 Guadalajara, MEXICO Guadalajara International Mariachi Festival
Sept 16 Washington, DC Kennedy Center / Millennium
Sept 16 Chicago, IL WFMT-FM (NPR) Concert Broadcast on "Introductions"