Nydia Rojas and Ricardo Castillón sing in duet at
2009 Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza concert
Legendary mariachi musician and vocal soloist Nydia Rojas is returning to San Antonio this November after a prolonged absence. Over the years, Nydia has performed in San Antonio and other parts of the state more times than she can count. “My mother and I used to joke that we should just move to Texas, since I was getting invited to sing out there almost every month!” she affirms.
Of Mexican and Cuban descent, Nydia was born near Los Angeles, California, where, she says, “the Mexican side of my cultural heritage definitely dominated my upbringing.” Her mother influenced her to sing at an early age, and she made her first public performance at age nine. Laura Sobrino was her first music instructor, and she began studying at the Mariachi Heritage Society under the tutelage of José Hernández when she was 11. Nydia made her first professional performance at age 12, alongside legendary singer Vikki Carr. in 1993, her career really took off after she competed in a vocal competition on the popular television show Sábado Gigante, which broadcasts to millions of viewers throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
Nydia joined Mariachi Reyna de los Ángeles in 1993 as a vocalist/guitarist, and she remained with that group until 1996, when she released her first solo album at age 16, the self-titled Nydia Rojas, on the Arista Latin label. Her only formal voice lessons have been with Heriberto Molina, whom Nydia describes as her greatest teacher and vocal mentor, “but I’ve also picked up a lot of things in a lot of places,” she assures us.
At the wishes of Arista Latin, Nydia’s second album, Florecer (1997), was pop-oriented. Soon after that, she switched to the Hollywood Records label, which allowed her to play a more active role in the production of her third CD, Si Me Conocieras (1999), and return to her more traditional roots. The title track of that album is Nydia’s own composition, which was arranged by Rigoberto Alfaro. Her own personal favorite, it was nominated for “Best Ranchero Performance” at that year’s Latin Grammy awards.
A successful tour with Juan Gabriel and the CD Nydia (2001) followed. After her father’s death in 2000, Nydia entered a period of reflection that eventually caused her to take a hiatus from her solo career that lasted the better part of a decade. “Up until then, I’d lived a sheltered, artist’s life, and I wanted to experience what the real world was like,” she explains. During that period she worked several non-musical day jobs, and joined Mariachi Mujer 2000.
In 2009, Nydia made a stellar performance at San Antonio’s Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. The duet she sang with Ricardo Castillón on that show remains one of the most-viewed videos on the mariachimusicdotcom YouTube channel, and many consider that unique moment one of the highlights of the Extravaganza’s entire 20-year history.
Nydia’s artistic career got another jump-start when, out of the blue, she received a call asking her if she would go on tour as the opening act for Vicente Fernández. In 2012, after two successful tours with Vicente, she took a two-year leave of absence from music, this time to start a family. Her two girls, Alessandra and Natalia, were born in close succession. Nydia’s November 22 concert at the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza will be her first public performance since the birth of her second daughter last June.
With open arms, San Antonio welcomes back one of its all-time favorite mariachi artists, Nydia Rojas!
Nydia with Bill Clinton at his second presidential inauguration
(photo by John Harrington)