A belated congratulations is extended to the Rio Grande Valley’s Mariachi Mariposas (Mission, TX) who took first place in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Mariachi Invitational this year. This makes Mariposas two-time grand champion winners of one of the largest professional mariachi group competitions in the world. In this blog, Mariachi Mariposas talks about how they prepared for the competition, the songs they selected, and what the future holds for their all-female ensemble.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Mariachi Invitational offers the greatest exposure for any mariachi group anywhere in the world, with a live-audience of in excess of 75,000 spectators. For a mariachi group, the show’s appeal is not only the adrenaline one gets from performing in front of such a huge audience, but also other perks such as a $7,500 cash prize, a trophy, publicity, an expanding fan base in one of the largest metropolitan markets in the world and invitations to perform in Houston throughout the year. But due to their hectic school and work schedules, members of Mariachi Mariposas are far too busy to accept many of those invitations, since most of them teach in Rio Grande Valley school-based mariachi music programs.
Photo courtesy the Houston Chronicle
“Preparing for the competition takes an enormous amount of time,” says Mayra García, violinist and director of Mariachi Mariposas. “We started planning for this event in January and worked hard on it up to the competition in March. Between our tight schedules, it was challenging to make time for rehearsals, but we felt it was really important to participate in this event and work hard to put on a great show, because we have a large fan base in Houston and we wanted to give them our very best,” she said.
A total of five groups were invited to compete in the Mariachi Invitational. Four of these were from the Rio Grande Valley and one was from Houston. Mariachi Mariposas made it to the top finals with their Arena Theater performance of a Juan Gabriel popurrí that included “Te Voy a Olvidar,” “La Farsante”and “Caray.” They also performed traditional sones, along with Lola Beltrán, Lucha Villa and Amalia Mendoza songs that tugged at the heartstrings of men. “We entertained the audience with songs that were appropriate for women to sing, and songs that enhanced our femininity,” said Mayra.
Mariachi Mariposas made it to the NRG Stadium finals, where they competed against the McAllen-based Mariachi Las Estrellas del Valle., winning the crowd over with two all-time favorites: “Hermoso Cariño” and “Volver Volver.”
“It’s a powerful and overwhelming experience to perform in front of 75,000+ people,” says Mayra. “It’s euphoric and massive in every way you can imagine.”
The group got an encore and came back with Juan Gabriel’s “Se Me Olvidó Otra Vez.” “This song drove the crowd crazy,” says Mayra. They also got the crowds attention to detail in the beautiful gold and purple trajes they wore during the competition. The trajes were made by the RGV Mariachi Factory which is owned by Miguel Galván, a member of the top-rated Mariachi Los Arrieros. “The crowd responded to the bling, bling in our trajes,” says Mayra. “It was that added touch of elegance we wanted to give our audience, and they responded with great enthusiasm!” she adds.
Mariachi Mariposas will turn six years old this June. They are quite busy working on a CD to be released in the fall. Mayra has been working closely with former Vargas member Miguel Ángel Barrón who has written many of the arrangements for the CD, including an original composition of Mayra’s called “La Lista.” The song is a wish list about all of the things a woman looks for in a perfect man. Love the concept, and I can’t wait to hear it!
Mariachi Mariposas members
Mayra García – violin/director
Elizabeth Salinas-Pagán – violin
Mirelle Y. Acuña – violin
Nicole Guzmán – violin
Andrea Torres – violin
Rebeca Cano – violin
Lorena López – guitarrón
Karla Pérez – vihuela
Vanessa Garza – guitar
Rosalba Vega – guitar
Ashley Escamilla – trumpet
Gigi Solís – trumpet
Ruth Medrano – trumpet
Note: Mayra García is also the mariachi music director for La Joya Independent School District. She will be traveling to Washington, D.C. this Memorial Day weekend to perform at the National Memorial Day Parade with Palmview High School’s Mariachi Los Lobos.
Annually, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Go Tejano Committee invites five professional ariachi groups from across the State of Texas to compete in the rodeo’s Mariachi Invitational. The five groups, whose identities remain secret during the performances, compete through two rounds before advancing to the final round in NRG Stadium. The first round, called the Showcase, is held at the Arena Theatre the day before the Semifinals, which are held in The Hideout at NRG Park on Go Tejano Day.
The first two rounds are judged by five mariachi professionals/educators. Judges score them in several categories, including musicianship, creativity and showmanship. The two finalists compete at NRG Stadium in front of the RodeoHouston crowd of more than 70,000 people. The winner is then determined by audience applause. There are cash prizes for all participants, ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 for first place.
2018 MARIACHI INVITATIONAL WINNERS
1st Place: Mariachi Mariposas (Mission, Texas)
2nd Place: Mariachi Las Estrellas del Valle (McAllen, Texas)
3rd Place: Mariachi Margaritas (Brownsville, Texas)
4th Place: Mariachi Calmecac Jalisciense (Houston, Texas)
5th Place: Mariachi Nueva Tradición (Edinburg, Texas)