Not that long ago, Yahritza Martinez and her older brothers Armando and Jairo would help their father pick apples in the fields of Yakima, Washington, a small town primarily known for its wineries and apple orchards. More than children of farmworkers, it was a family tradition, especially after school or during summer vacation.
In their free time, the Martinez siblings would either hang out in their room scrolling on TikTok or teach themselves how to play an instrument—two hobbies that ultimately led them to become Yahritza y Su Esencia, the young family band already breaking chart records on their very first single.
“It’s happening so fast,” Armando, a.k.a “Mando,” 24, tells Billboard.
The band, comprised of Yahritza on vocals and guitars, Jairo on the bajoloche (4-string acoustic bass), and Mando on 12-string guitar, made Billboard history this week, after their debut single “Soy El Unico (released March 25 via Lumbre Music) debuted at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs, and hit No. 20 on the Hot 100 chart, making the 15-year-old rising artist the youngest Latin performer to enter the all-genre tally.
“It’s like, ‘Wow, I hit top 20,’” Yahritza reacts. “I never knew that I was going to be up there. It’s really crazy for me.”
It All Began on TikTok
Before they made history this week, before their “Soy El Unico” officially launched on all DSPs, and even before they decided on a group name, Yahritza, Mando, and Jairo were creating a fan base on TikTok.
“It all started when I opened my TikTok last year,” Jairo, 17, recalls. “I had it just to watch videos but Mando was the one who told me I should post my videos playing the bajoloche. At first, I did some covers alone, but one day after school, I asked Yahritza to join me.”
The first video they posted together was a cover of Ivan Cornejo’s 2021 Hot 100 hit“Esta Dañada,” which according to Jairo “went pretty viral,” reaching over 715K views at the time of publishing.
It was that same video that landed on the TikTok “For You” page of Ramon Ruiz, ceo of Lumbre Music, one January afternoon. “Her voice really caught my attention,” Ruiz, also a member of corridos group Legado 7, says. “It gave me chills because it’s something I’ve never heard before.”
@jairo.bruh #voiceeffects #ivancornejo#estadanada #fyp#viral#bajoloche#foryoupage RUN IT UP!!!!! @yngkevz14🎤@itz_yahri14 ♬ original sound – Jairo.bruh
As someone who’s always scouting for new talent — and is also credited for discovering Fuerza Regida and Herencia de Patrones — Ruiz, alongside the label’s president (and fellow Legado 7 member) Alex Guerra and filmmaker David Cruz, did not hesitate to fly from Los Angeles to Yakima to meet the Martinez family the following month.
While in Yakima, Ruiz and Guerra not only recorded three original songs for Yahritza y Su Esencia, but also set up a small gathering with family and friends, where the group performed and ultimately inked their first-ever record deal.
Cruz documented every step of the journey — including a 15-second clip of Yahritza recording the heartfelt chorus of “Soy El Unico” at the studio, a video which in no time went viral and put her honeyed and soulful vocals and deep lyrics on the mainstream radar.
“There was no strategy, no hiring TikTokers — everything happened organically,” Ruiz assures. Currently, the video has over 28 million views and has inspired over 150K video creations.
The Appeal of “Soy El Unico”
“Unico” was already a hit before it was even released, thanks largely to its ultra-personal and very relatable line, “Mucho tiempo me gastaste y eso no puedo recuperarlo/ Trato de olvidarte esta noche, como deberia de hacer hace tiempo” (You wasted a lot of my time and I can’t get that back/ I try to forget about you tonight, how I should’ve done a long time ago).
@videobydavidcruz YAHRITZA 🔥 @jairo.bruh #lumbremusic #legado7 #corridos #corridostumbados #mexico #yahritza ♬ original sound – Videobydavidcruz
But beyond its lyrics, it’s the voice narrating this heartbreak, coming from a quinceañera who often rocks baseball hats and oversized hoodies.
“I know that the words are very strong but honestly, when it comes down to me writing my songs, it’s more like a research process,” Yahritza explains. “I see other people’s stories on TikTok — that’s how I found ‘Soy El Unico,’ because I saw a clip that said, ‘It’s crazy how someone can leave you when you’re the only one who’s best for them.’ No one’s going to believe me when I say that I get my inspiration from TikTok.”
“Soy El Unico,” which is the first song Yahritza penned at the age of 13, was also inspired by a real-life situation her brother Mando went through. “I don’t write my songs specifically for anyone. I just observe what’s going on around me and I get ideas from it,” she continues.
And that combination, precisely, of raw talent and real stories, has become the perfect blend for the band. “Every song she sings makes your skin get goosebumps. Everything she sings is very ‘chingon,’” Guerra says. “I, who am part of a group, have never heard such perfect tuning before.”
All in the Familia
Yahritza, Mando, and Jairo are self-taught musicians. Mando began playing the guitar at the age of 10. Jairo eventually learned the bass from observing his older brother. And Yahritza picked up the guitar less than a year ago.
They are three of five siblings — children of two hardworking agricultural laborers from Michoacan, Mexico, whose love for music derives from two of their uncles, who once also formed part of a band. As a group, Yahritza y Su Esencia enjoys the same type of music and artists: Ed Maverick, Ivan Cornejo, and Calibre 50, to name a few. But besides creating their own sad sierreños, they want to revolutionize musica Mexicana.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our guitars are simple,” Mando elaborates. “I don’t go crazy on the guitars or do adornos — because we like to have Yahritza’s voice stand out. Music is what fuels this project.”
Their older sister, Adriana, has taken on the role of the group’s personal manager.
“They are adapting to this so quickly,” she says. “When they were shooting the music videos in Miami, they did everything so naturally that I had no idea they had this in them. I was so emotional watching them because that’s my little sister. I changed her diapers and now she’s performing. I was blown away.”
And a similar family affair is reflected in their team at Lumbre Music, composed of three other members in addition to Ruiz and Guerra: Brayan Guerra, coo; Bryant Orta, cco; and Ximena Acosta, strategy and marketing.
“We’re a small team yet we did the work of 100 people in just a couple of weeks. We try to be as efficient as possible,” Ruiz proudly shares, admitting that major Latin and mainstream labels have already expressed interest in signing the up-and-coming act. “We just want to do what’s best for them,” he notes.
For now, Yahritza y Su Esencia is enjoying their newfound fame while still balancing a regular life in Yakima. Mando works as a self-employed barber, and Jairo and Yahritza attend A.C. Davis High School, while still helping their father pick apples in the fields. Up next, Yahritza y Su Esencia will release their debut EP with five original songs, and are set to tour with Legado 7 and the rest of the Lumbre Music artists.
“This is all love and passion — but more than anything, it’s their humble story,” Guerra says. “It motivates all of us to help them move forward and accomplish their dreams.”