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When Mexican musicians first combined their folk traditions with immigrant European musical traditions, their music had no name. It wasn’t until the 19th century that these musicians became “mariachis” and their music defined a genre. With roots in the state of Jalisco, mariachi music has flourished throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States, winning the devotion of audiences across the globe.
Although the history of the music is relatively well known, the origin of its name is uncertain. Mariachi today is as rich with meaning as its past is full of mystery. For many people, the thought of a mariachi band brings images of suits decorated with silver worn by musicians serenading someone’s lady love. For others, the picture is less romantic: leathery men strumming guitars on busy streets, or unexpected trumpets in small restaurants. To most Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, however, mariachis are standard-bearers, inspiring nostalgia and patriotism through songs of love, loss, pride, and joy.
Mariachi music is enjoying a growing popularity in the United States. Schools in several states offer mariachi programs that take young musicians from their earliest lessons through their graduation from college. National mariachi festivals attract participants and audiences from across the country. Mariachis appear on television and film as part of our popular culture as well as our history. Nevertheless, mariachis maintain a closeness with their audiences that has not changed with their popular success.
Mariachis are an indispensable part of every special occasion: Mexican-Americans expect mariachis at baptisms, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and at funerals. Even onstage, mariachis connect with their audiences by drawing on the emotions that people associate with their most intimate experiences. It is this connection that transcends cultural differences, making mariachi a universal musical language.
Mariachi Orgullo de América was founded in January of 2002 by Gregorio Hallman, Jorge Hernández, Robert Ruiz, and José Solis. Not long after, many other members joined these men to form the most diverse and talented professional mariachi group that Oklahoma has to offer. With years of experience on their individual instruments, all of the mariachi's musicians add their own flair. Since making their grand debut in May 2002, Mariachi Orgullo has enjoyed tremendous success thanks to all of the communities of Oklahoma. It is with great pride that this virtuoso mariachi is considered Oklahoma’s Mariachi.