Competition judges Andrés González, Alberto Alfaro and Arturo Vargas with winning vocalists Kamryn Ramírez and Alexa Posas
Texas vocal champions Jackelyn Barrera of Roma, Alexa Posas of Río Grande City and Kamryn Ramírez of McAllen will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan in late March to participate in a three-day residency that concludes with two concerts featuring the renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. “It’s an honor for us to open for Mariachi Vargas, and we’re very much looking forward to performing for the people of Michigan,” says champion Alexa Posas.
These three talented young artists were selected by members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán — judges of the contest — as winners of the “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” award during San Antonio’s Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Vocal Competition. Their three-day stay in Michigan will commence with performances at Carpenter and Mitchell Elementary Schools, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the Ford Engagement and Resource Center in Detroit; and culminate with two special concerts featuring Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán at the University of Michigan’s prestigious Hill Auditorium on Friday, April 1. The Friday morning concert will be for students, the evening concert for the general public.
Sixteen-year-old Jacquelyn Rosalee “Jackie” Barrera is a sophomore at Roma High School in Roma, Texas. In 2014, she appeared as a vocal finalist on Telemundo’s La Voz Kids. Later that year, she was declared “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” in the high school category of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition. Jackie is also a violinist with Roma High’s Mariachi Nuevo Santander. She and her group’s violin section were recently recognized as “Best Performers” at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Mariachi Competition.
Normally, only one winner per year is chosen in each category of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Vocal Competition. In 2015, however, two vocalists in the high school category — Alexa Posas and Kamryn Ramírez — were so extraordinary that the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán members who judge this contest were unable to decide on one or the other. Consequently, for the first time in the event’s history, a tie was declared, and both girls shared the “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” trophy.
Worthy of mention also is the fact that both 2014 champion Jackie Barrera and 2015 champion Alexa Posas hail from the U.S.-Mexico border region of Roma, Texas, where they both attend Roma High School and are members of their school’s award-winning Mariachi Nuevo Santander, directed by Eloy Garza.
After tying for “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” at the 21st Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition last November, Alexa Michelle Posas performed as an opening act for Mariachi Vargas. This 17-year-old Roma High School junior is also the violin section leader of the award-winning Mariachi Nuevo Santander. With that group, Alexa performed for president Barack Obama in October 2015, during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. She has also performed at the Arena Theater as a guest vocalist for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s “Go Tejano Day,” and during the World-Class Bloodless Bullfight events at the Santa María Bullring in La Gloria, Texas.
Kamryn Danielle Ramírez is a 16-year-old sophomore at McAllen High School in McAllen, Texas. Last November, she and Alexa Posas were distinguished recipients of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza’s “Best Mariachi Vocalist in the U.S.” award. Kamryn is an integral member of the three-time state champion McHi Mariachi Oro, where she plays the harp and is one of the lead vocalists. One of her most recent accomplishments as part of this award-winning ensemble was receiving a Division 1 Superior Rating from all judges at the UIL State Mariachi Festival this past March, an extremely rare and special accomplishment! Kamryn has opened for Mariachi Vargas in San Antonio and has performed as a guest vocalist for the Miss Edinburg and Miss Río Grande Valley pageants.
This marks the third time Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition winners travel to Ann Arbor to open for Vargas, thanks to a collaborative initiative between the University Music Society (UMS) and Muñoz Public Relations (MPR). “This is a wonderful opportunity for our Texas youth to perform in one of the most prestigious theaters in the world, alongside some of the most talented musicians in the world,” says Cynthia Muñoz, Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza producer and president of MPR. “These young vocalists will have the opportunity to grow and develop their talents while interacting with students and community — something they will cherish forever.”
Joining Mariachi Vargas and Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition winners on stage will be Christina Maxwell, a senior voice major at the University of Michigan School of Music and an assistant instructor for the Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Vocal Camp in San Antonio.
Additional team members on this Ann Arbor tour include Rosalinda Barrera, René Benavidez, Barbara Jean Cavasos, Cynthia Muñoz, María Magdalena “Maggie” Rodríguez and Alex Treviño. Alex is director of McAllen High School’s McHi Mariachi Oro, the group Kamryn Ramírez plays in.
Tickets to see Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza winners perform in Ann Arbor are available at UMS.org.