A New Generation of Mariachi
Mariachi music is a rich and diverse musical tradition that originated in Mexico and has spread across the world. Combining elements of Spanish, African, Indigenous, and European musical influences, it features instruments such as violins, trumpets, guitars, harps, and the distinctive guitarrón (a large bass guitar). Mariachi is often associated with festive occasions like weddings, birthdays, religious celebrations, and national holidays, and it’s a beloved form of cultural expression and identity for many Mexican and Mexican American communities.
One of the most prominent and successful groups in the contemporary mariachi scene is Mariachi Herencia de México, a Grammy-winning ensemble of young musicians from Chicago. The group was founded in 2016 by César Maldonado, a former member of the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that promotes mariachi education in Chicago public schools. Maldonado wanted to create a professional-level group that could showcase the talent and potential of the students who participated in the foundation’s programs.
Mariachi Herencia de México made their debut with the album Nuestra Herencia (Our Heritage), which featured collaborations with renowned mariachi artists such as Lila Downs, Aida Cuevas, and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán (all of whom UMS has presented!). The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching the top of the Latin streaming charts and earning a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album. The group followed up with Herencia de la Tierra Mía (Heritage of My Land) in 2018, which was produced by Javier Limón, a celebrated Spanish musician and producer, and featured guest appearances by Pedro Fernández, Christian Nodal, and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.
In 2019, Mariachi Herencia de México released Esencia (Essence), a double album that showcased their versatility and range. The first volume focused on traditional mariachi songs, while the second volume explored other genres such as bolero, son jarocho, huapango, and cumbia. The following songs are from volume I and II, respectively:
In 2022, Mariachi Herencia de México released their fifth album, Herederos (The Heirs), which celebrated their legacy and evolution as a group. The album, also nominated for a Latin Grammy Award, included original songs written by the group members, as well as covers of classics by Vicente Fernández, Lola Beltrán, José José and more. The album also featured a collaboration with Camila Cabello on a bilingual version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” The album was praised by critics and fans alike for its innovation and authenticity.
Mariachi Herencia have performed extensively across North America, sharing their music and culture with diverse audiences at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, the Hollywood Bowl — and now Hill Auditorium! The group has participated in SXSW, the Chicago World Music Festival, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, as well as being featured on national media outlets such as NPR, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision.
Mariachi Herencia de México is more than just a musical group — they are also ambassadors of their heritage and role models for their generation. They represent the power and beauty of mariachi music, the diversity and creativity of the Mexican American community, and proof that mariachi music is alive and thriving in the 21st century!
UMS will present the Ann Arbor debut of Mariachi Herencia de México on their Herederos tour on Tuesday, January 23, 2024 featuring special guest La Marisoul.