In this exclusive feature interview for mariachimusic.com, Jonathan Clark talks with San Antonio mariachi luminary Raúl Cuéllar, Jr. about how he worked his way up from humble youth groups to the greatest mariachis in the world.
JC: When and where were you born, Raúl?
RC: July 31, 1976. Born and raised in San Antonio.
JC: So how did you initially get involved with mariachi music?
RC: Actually, it was one of my older cousins who introduced me. His name is Óscar Garza. He still has a group in San Antonio named Mariachi Festival. But before he had his own group, he used to play with Mariachi Infantil Guadalupano at Our Lady of Guadalupe church. One day he and another cousin of mine, Miguel, were going to a rehearsal for the Mass. It was the summer of 1985, and I was 9 years old. I didn’t want to go at first, but they prodded me and said, “Bring your ball. If you get bored, you can play basketball outside in the court while we practice.” I started shooting baskets while they began practicing inside. They left the door open, and I could hear them rehearsing religious songs like “Señor, Ten Piedad,” “Gloria,” and “Aleluia.” It caught my attention.