“We are the future,” said 16-year-old ZullyDiana Gomez, who is one of Mariachi Herencia de Mexico’s violin players. “We don’t want our culture to die and we want to keep celebrating it through music.”
Mariachi Herencia de Mexico is composed of teenagers, ages 11 to 19, from Chicago, whose new album — titled Herencia de la Tierra Mía — debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Latin Album Sales chart and No. 5 on the Regional Mexican Albums chart (dated June 9).
“To be on the Billboard charts is a great honor because we’re city kids, we’re students and we’re coming from such humble roots,” said violinist Angelica Perez, 19. “So, to be placed in such a nationwide publication, that’s amazing and it gives me so much pride.”
What started out as a music program for students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools, the third largest district in the nation, in 2014 has become much more than he could ever envision, said Cesar Maldonado, founder of the education program.
“It’s a group of kids, but it’s impressive to see their playing level, where they’re at musically and how much they have evolved,” Maldonado told Billboard. “It’s them being trailblazers, leading the genre.”
Maldonado also runs the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve the cultural heritage of mariachi music and other Mexican heritage arts.
Since the band’s inception in 2016, Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, managed by IMG Artists, was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2017 for their debut album Nuestra Herencia, and the young musicians have already shared the stage with singers like Aída Cuevas and Lila Downs.