"La Mariacha"


A Traditional
"Traje de Charro"
of the Mariachi Singer


  What is Mariachi?

"The only thing more Mexican than tequila is mariachi and it seems
a shame to have one without the other."
- Camille Collins

The origins of mariachi music go back hundreds of years. It evolved from what was essentially a peasant music form to its present form starting in the nineteenth century. The modern success of mariachi music was guaranteed when Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan was invited to play for the inauguration of Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas in 1934.
Originally played by strolling groups of musicians, it utilizes a variety of portable instruments including violins, guitars, basses, vihuelas, and trumpets (but no drums, the percussion is added by the pounding heels of the dancers).  It has a unique musicological form using varied melodies in one piece for rhythmic contrast rather than repeating the same theme over and over.
Mariachi's first all-female group was Mariachi Las Coronelas formed in the mid-1940s in Mexico.  They were closely followed by Mariachi Las Adelitas and Mariachi Michoacano in the 1950s. Photos of these last two groups show them in the traditional traje de charro.
Women did play and sing with other mariachi groups including Lucha Moreno with the famed Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan in the 1950s.  In 1961, at UCLA, Jesus Sanchez directed the first university based mariachi and encouraged women to perform in this and other groups.  Mariachi Las Generalas of Los Angeles was the first all-female group in the United States formed in 1976.

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