Corridos tumbados, the emerging regional Mexican music genre led by Gen Z artists, got a major global showcase when 19-year-old Natanael Cano performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last October.
Cano’s record label, Los Angeles-based Rancho Humilde, is also leading the wave with the hip-hop-infused corridos with artists like fellow Mexican singer Junior H and now Cuban-born artist Ovi. Enter Ivonne Galaz, the label’s first female signee, who is looking to represent women in this growing movement with her debut single “A Mi Modo” (My Way),” out today.
In the video, Galaz — wearing not the sexy outfits long associated with female singers, but black sweats — comes out guns blazing. “Let’s get it!” she says as the song’s intro, delivering swaggering lyrics that tell her own story. The music video notably features a female guitarist among her backing band.
“The song is talking about how I’m doing things my way,” Galaz tells Billboard. “That’s why it’s called ‘A Mi Modo.’ No one’s controlling my songs. I write about what I want.
“The world of corridos is dominated by men,” Galaz adds. “But little-by-little, I’ll be pushing through, whether they like it or not — and I’m going to break through.”
Like her labelmate Cano, Galaz also hails from Sonora, Mexico. Her first big break with the L.A.-based Rancho Humilde was last December, when she released her song “Golpes de la Vida” as a duet with Cano on his Mi Nuevo Yo EP.
Reflecting on the hard knocks of life, Galaz wrote “Golpes de la Vida” as a culmination of all her struggles in Mexico, including the loss of her mom to leukemia when she was 11 years old. Galaz took the song with her to present to Rancho Humilde CEO Jimmy Humilde, who was looking for a woman to add to his roster. He was impressed by the honest lyrics and gave her the choice to record it alone or as a duet with Cano.
“Me knowing that it was rare for a woman to be in that genre, I had a strategy,” Galaz says. “I thought, ‘I’m going to enter the music industry in a big way with Natanael Cano.’ I’m grateful for everything that Natanael has done for me.”
Since then, Galaz released more duets on this year’s Corridos Tumbados, Vol. 2 album with her labelmates, who she says “are like family.” She teamed up with Cano again for “El Magico,” and had a girl power moment with Rancho Humilde’s other female signee, Natalie López, on “La Rueda.” But Galaz’s “A Mi Modo” marks the label’s very first release by a woman that isn’t a duet.
“I’m very nervous because it’s my first video and my first song,” Galaz says. Then more confidently, she adds, “This is a moment for me to shine by myself.”
As inspirations for the song and her career, Galaz cites the women in regional Mexican music that came before her: Ana Gabriel, Jenni Rivera, and Chavela Vargas. “The music industry is difficult and for [Ana] to have the bravery to come out as woman in the genre who is openly part of the LGBTQ+ community is f–king awesome,” Galaz says.
When asked if she might be part of the LGBTQ+ community, Galaz simply quotes flamboyant Mexican icon Juan Gabriel: “Lo que se ve no se pregunta,” which roughly translates to: “Don’t question what you can clearly see.” To her fans who are part of that community, she says, “Don’t be afraid to show who you are.”
Galaz also cites Mexican painter Frida Kahlo as an inspiration. “What I like about these four women is the bravery they showed and the drive that they had,” she says. “Jenni Rivera is my biggest inspiration because she was one of the first women in the world of corridos. I identify with her a lot. I have the same drive as her, to be someone and to be recognized.”
“I want young women to see that there’s someone like them that’s doing it,” she adds. “Me and Natalie are going to motivate more women to get involved with los corridos tumbados.”