On Saturday, December 5, 2020, the 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza premiered on YouTube as the first-ever virtual edition of our festival’s National Vocal Competition, amassing nearly 6,000 views in less than 24 hours. This year’s competition brought together 35 of the most talented mariachi vocalists from across the United States, including students from Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, and captured the attention of mariachi aficionados worldwide. The virtual competition experience was new to everyone involved and took great effort from not only the students and their instructors, but also their family members who acted as camera operators, lighting assistants and audio technicians when the competitors recorded their final videos.
From the start of the competition, audiences were captivated by the talent that came across the screen. As each performance passed, anticipation grew to see which competitor was coming up next to take the virtual “stage.” The live chat was flooded with positive comments as viewers cheered on their favorite performers and admired the talent of singers they had never seen before. Even the competitors were enthralled in the premiere, and many commented that they enjoyed watching their peers’ performances, something that is rarely afforded to them during a typical Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza competition.
As the competition wrapped up, judges Carlos Martínez (musical director/violinist/vocalist) and Andrés González (violinist/vocalist) of the world-famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán popped onto the screen to announce the winners of the National Vocal Competition. Below are the results:
This year’s top honor of Grand Champion Vocalist of the Year went to high school senior Ashley Treviño of McAllen High School in McAllen, Texas for her performance of the bolero “Más No Puedo”, written by Luzmaría Zárate and arranged by Marcos Zárate. Ashley stunned judges with her sweet yet
Elementary/Middle School Category
First place went to Ramiro Barrera Middle School’s Isabella González of Roma, Texas for her stunning technical performance of the classic huapango “El Pastor.”
Pedrito Fregoso of Mountain View School in Moreno Valley, California was awarded second place for his lively interpretation of Chucho Monje’s “México Lindo y Querido.”
Rounding out the category in third place was San Antonio’s own Melanie Terrazas of NISD’s Rayburn Middle School for her performance of Juan Gabriel’s “Qué Buena Suerte” made famous by Aída Cuevas.
High School Category
Competition in the high school category was fierce this year, as it is every year. Judges had their work cut out for them when scoring the competitors’ outstanding performances.
Taking the top spot in the high school category was senior Natalie Carmona of McAllen High School in McAllen, Texas. Natalie was awarded first place after judges were taken by her powerful vocals and interpretation of Cristian Castro’s “Volver a Amar.”
Second place went to McAllen High School junior Roxeth González for her stunning performance of José José’s “Lo Que Fue No Será.”
Third place in this category resulted in a tie, with students from Nevada and Texas taking the honors. The award went to Deborah Carrillo-Barquero of Las Vegas’ Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts for her interpretation of the ranchera “Rezaré”, and to Jenika Montes of McAllen High School for her lively and catchy performance of “Río Crecido.”
First place in the college/university category went to Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza newcomer Yasmine Duenes of the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. Yasmine’s classic interpretation of “Puñalada Trapera” blew judges away and gave them the feel of listening to Amalia Mendoza.
Seasoned competitor Cecilia García of the University of Texas in Austin was awarded second place for her soul-touching version of José Alfredo Jiménez’s ranchera “Declárate Inocente.”
In another tough decision, Mariachi Vargas judges selected two winners for a third place tie. Third place was awarded to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Samantha Marin for her touching performance of the bolero “Mucho Corazón” and also to Las Vegas’ Precious Carrasco of the College of Southern Nevada for her interpretation of Selena’s powerful ranchera “Qué Creías.”
In a year where nothing seems normal, the 26th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Vocal Competition brought great joy to all of those involved, as well as to everyone who has viewed this competition. Thank you to all of those who participated and made this event possible, including all who auditioned, the vocal finalists, instructors, families and mariachi community. Your talent inspires us to continue our efforts to promote our unique music and culture as we continue through this pandemic. We hope to see everyone in person
in December of 2021. ¡Que viva el mariachi!