Congratulations to the 21st Annual
Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza competition winners!
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza has earned a reputation for attracting the finest mariachi groups and vocalists in the country, and this was clearly evidenced November 19-21, during the festival’s 21st annual celebration, where nearly 1000 musicians vied for top honors in what are currently the world’s largest and most competitive mariachi group and mariachi vocal competitions. A mariachi songwriting contest rounded out the event.
This year’s National Mariachi Group Competitions had four first-place champions. Mariachi Juvenil de América (2010, 2011 & 2014 winners), from Veterans Middle School in Río Grande City, took first place in the middle school category. Mariachi Nuevo Santander (2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 winners), from Roma High School, and Mariachi Cascabel (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 winners), from Río Grande City High School, tied for first place in the high school category. Mariachi Juvenil Aztlán, from the University of Texas-Río Grande Valley, took top honors in the college/university category.
Kamryn Ramírez, “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” winner
The highest overall distinction to be awarded in the National Mariachi Vocal Competition division is the coveted “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” award. This year, the panel of judges—consisting entirely of members of the renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán—had such a difficult time choosing a winner that they declared it a tie and gave two awards in that category. The two phenomenally gifted winners were Alexa Posas (2013 second-place winner), a senior from Roma High School, and Kamryn Ramírez, a sophomore from McAllen High School. “There is so much incredible talent here, and it just keeps getting better each year!” said Mariachi Vargas member Andrés González, one of the festival’s vocal adjudicators.
Alexa Posas, “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” winner
In the National Vocal Competition’s elementary category, Juan Vélez of Houston’s Ekert Elementary School took the lead spot. The first-place middle school vocal winner was Amy Falcón of La Grulla Middle School. In the high school category, Katherine Pérez of McAllen High School and Kassandra Juárez of Río Grande City High School tied for first place. In the college/university category, Clyde Guerra, from the University of Texas-Río Grande Valley, took this year’s crown. A superlative mariachi singer, Clyde was a 2011, 2013, and 2014 champion at the high school level, and, prior to that, a 2010 winner in the middle school category.
“The level of musicianship and the caliber of performances is unbelievable,” said Guadalajara-based recording artist Azucena de la Torre (better known as Azucena “La de Jalisco”), who performed Saturday night at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. “I feel more mexicana here in San Antonio at this beautiful Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza than I do in Guadalajara!” she affirmed.
There was also a National Mariachi Songwriting Competition, for which the first-place winner was Houston-based José Longoria, for his extraordinary balada “Me Imagino Yo.” Founder and director of Houston’s Mariachi Imperial, José (better known as “Chabelo”) is a long-time music educator and professional mariachi musician.
“This annual showcase of talent, virtuosity, and cultural pride demonstrated once again that this is a competition where every contestant is a winner from the moment he or she steps onstage,” commented composer/songwriter Federico Chávez-Blanco.
For a complete listing of first-, second-, and third-place rankings in all categories and divisions, please consult the 2015 National Competition Winners list.
The 21st Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza was sponsored by Sprint, Valero, El Jimador Tequila, Azteca San Antonio television, La Prensa newspapers, KEDA radio, and MariachiMusic.com.