Meet Houston's newest mariachi - Catalina Garcia of Mariachi Hermosura.
"I've only been playing in the group for four, almost five months now," she tells Hair Balls backstage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's Mariachi Invitational competition.
Hermosura isn't in the running this year (they're acting as the show's opening act), but they have plenty of trophies and titles of their own, including one of the most prestigious of them all - 1st place in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza competition's high school division. (Catalina was a featured musician during the group's performance even though she had joined the group just a few weeks before the competition.)
"I've been playing [violin] since sixth grade, and now I'm in 11th grade. I played in my school's chamber orchestra, but I never played mariachi music. I don't know why, because every since I was four years old, I just loved mariachi music. Then my mom found this opportunity and I joined."
Mariachi Hermosura is made up of mostly first-generation Mexican-American kids like Catalina, who are drawn to the cultural roots of their Mexican parents.
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"Mariachi music, I don't know, it's just got so much spirit. And it's our traditional music from Mexico. It's our family's tradition; my grandparents love mariachi music. Most of us in the orchestra, our parents came from Mexico. My mom did not play, but my dad sang. This generation in my family, is a whole generation of musicians. I think it's important to keep our family's traditions -- the language, the music, everything." (Catalina's doing her part. Besides playing mariachi music, she's fluent in Spanish, and even opted to have her quiñcenera -- a traditional coming-out party -- in Mexico.)
What does Catalina hope people take away from Mariachi Hermosura's performances? "That we're intelligent kids," she answers quickly. "That we have a lot of talent, and we enjoy doing what we do. That we really love the music."
At Saturday night's performance, so did the audience.