This is the third blog in a series of profiles written by mariachi historian Jonathan Clark on current members of Mariachi Vargas. Profiles will be posted on Mariachimusic.com blogs leading up to the 19th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Dec. 1-7.
Mexico City native Enrique de Santiago descends from a distinguished family of mariachi musicians with roots in Guachinango, Jalisco. His uncles Mario and Nati were longtime members of Mariachi Vargas; his father Berna, a studio musician and one of the most accomplished guitarrón players in Mexico.
Enrique first became interested in music at the age of 4, when his father brought him home a cuatro (a four-string instrument similar to the ukulele) from a tour of Venezuela. He later took an interest in the guitar, and became a founding member of Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán playing that instrument. By age 10, he had already begun studying the guitarrón under his father’s tutelage and, at age 18, he began playing that instrument professionally, working with groups like Mariachi Oro y Plata and doing recording sessions for major artists like Vicente Fernández. At age 21, he joined Mariachi Vargas, filling the vacancy his uncle Nati left upon his retirement from the group. One of his most memorable experiences as a Vargas member was in 2007, when the group performed in Czechoslovakia with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.