Fifteen year old Jizelle Rodríguez is doing well. The Kyle, Texas native was placed in the limelight when her excellent interpretation of “El Jaripeo” earned her the prestigious Grand Champion Vocalist award during the 23rd annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in December 2017.
Jizelle was selected from more than 40 vocal competitors by members of the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
Jizelle’s interpretation of “El Jaripeo” is right on target with the original composer’s objective in writing a ‘son’ that captures the beauty, the spirit and the traditions of the Mexican Rodeo. The ‘son’ is the most traditional style of mariachi music that is often performed with much ‘gusto.’
In addition, she received a $3,000 scholarship from Gonzaba Medical Group.
“I feel really honored to have the title,” Jizelle said during an interview on KENS 5’s Great Day SA. “It’s just amazing to represent the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza.”
Jizelle competed in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Vocal Competition in 2016 as a 7th grader, where she won 3rd place in the Middle School category.
“I was in the 7th grade the first time I attended the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza,” says Jizelle. “Alexa Posas and Kamryn Ramirez tied for Grand Champion Vocalists that year. I’ll always remember that day because I was amazed by Alexa and Kamryn’s talent and all of the performances from all of the competitors. They were all so different and had their own unique styles.”
Jizelle hones her vocal skills under the tutelage of San Antonio-based vocal teacher Alicia Covarrubias, who is also the mariachi director for San Antonio College’s Mariachi Estrellas del Alamo.
“My vocal coach Alicia gave me several options to consider. I loved the falsettos in “El Jaripeo” and since this is one of my strengths, I picked it.” Jizelle explained. “It goes along with the style of songs that I like to sing like “El Gallo de Oro,” “El Herradero” and “El Toro Relajo.”
In July, Jizelle will represent the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in performances with Mariachi Aztlán from the University of Texas-Rio Grand Valley (UT-RGV) in Floresville, Texas at 3 p.m. at the Lauro G, De Leon III Floresville Event Center on July 8.
Following her Floresville performance, she will be performing in Greeley, Colorado at the University of Northern Colorado on July 15 and Lone Tree, Colorado at the Lone Tree Arts Center on July 16 for the Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Tour.
Jizelle continues practicing her craft and recently studied with vocal coaches Octavio Moreno and Vanessa Alonzo during the 7th Annual Mariachi Extravaganza Summer Camp in San Antonio, Texas.
Jizelle began her mariachi journey in 6th grade at Chapa Middle School in Kyle where she learned guitar, and recently completed her freshman year at Lehman High School, where she plays violin and sings with the school group Mariachi Los Lobos.
Jizelle’s award-winning performance of “El Jaripeo” during the Extravaganza was filmed and captured by San Antonio producers Isaih Matthews, Chavis Barron and Dominique Johnson of SolarShot, and was submitted and accepted into the 40th Annual Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Cinefestival. It will premiere on Sunday, July 8, 3 p.m. during Family Day at the Guadalupe Theatre.
“El Jaripeo” was composed in 1998 by Mexican songwriter Alfredo Morales del Río, and is a festive and high-spirited son describing the joys of the jaripeo, a bull-riding competition associated with the charreada, or Mexican rodeo. The rodeo plays an integral part of patron saint festivals celebrated in towns throughout Mexico and Central America, according to Mariachi historian Jonathan Clark. It takes place from September 20 until Oct. 3 annually in his hometown of Ocotlán, Jalisco.
Morales del Río said he created the melody with a guitar his father gave him, and that many charros risk their life when performing in the rodeo, which impressed and inspired him to write the song.
The song was originally recorded by Nydia Rojas on her 1999 CD Si me Conocieras, with arrangement by Rigoberto Alfaro and accompaniment by Mariachi Águilas de América. Morales del Rio said he met Nydia’s mother Olivia in Ocotlán, where he gave her a CD of five songs he had written. Together, Nydia and Olivia listened to the CD, and chose “El Jaripeo” to be recorded in the album.
“In the competitive level, a lot of vocalists choose slow songs to sing,” Cynthia Muñoz, Producer of Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza said. “’El Jaripeo” is a happy, lively, son that truly captures the feeling and spirit of Mexico. This, combined with the fact that Jizelle is pitch-perfect and excellent at hitting those high notes, is what most likely caught the attention of the members of Mariachi Vargas.”
“Our goal at Muñoz Public Relations is to ensure that Jizelle has the best year of her life,” Muñoz continued.
“Practice makes perfect,” Jizelle said, when asked how she manages to hit those high notes.
Jizelle Rodríguez is already making plans to attend the many events at the 24th Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, happening in San Antonio, Texas from November 11-18, 2018. Be sure to mark your calendars for the longest-running Mariachi festival in the nation. For more information on upcoming events, and to purchase your tickets for the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Concert, visit mariachimusic.com.