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 16, 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, recorded in Mexico, by members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, a revered institution in the genre. In addition, members of three top Los Angeles ensembles – Los Camperos, Sol de México, and the all-female group Reyna de Los Ángeles – recorded guest vocals on the CD.
The group performs in major mariachi festivals, including upcoming events in Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Guadalajara, Mexico’s mariachi capital. The aim is more exposure, so the world can see what these young musicians have to offer. Debut concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Joe’s Pub in New York City are now on the schedule.