Celebrating Women’s History Month | Part 3

Paralleling some of PCM’s key programs and in celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re sharing a series of blog posts that look at the past, present, and future of Women in the fields of Western Classical, Jazz, and Mariachi music. In our third and final post, we celebrate the contributions of Rosa Quiriño, Flor de Toloache, and Becky G, and how they paved – or are currently paving – the way for future generations of women in Mariachi music.

An old photo of an older mexican woman playing violin

Past: Rosa Quiriño (1890-?)

1903 marks the first reports of a woman performing Mariachi. Much of what we know about then 13-year-old Rosa Quiriño is the stuff of legend. She began performing in the western Mexican state of Nayarit, and went on to form her own Mariachi group as the leader of that ensemble. There are photographs that show her playing violin and singing, and we know she likely composed several songs of her own. As the only female member of her ensemble, she is reported to have carried a gun to protect herself from audience members who objected to a woman onstage. Her preferred attire was a pair of leather huaraches and a wrap over her shoulders in a nod to Pancho Villa.

7 Mariachi women stand in a line.

Present: Flor de Toloache (est. 2008)

Flor de Toloache is an all-female Grammy-winning Mariachi group, breaking gender norms and revitalizing traditional Mexican music with their innovative approach. Founded in 2008 in New York City by Mireya I. Ramos, the group’s leader and violinist, Flor de Toloache fuses traditional mariachi sounds with elements of Jazz, Salsa, Pop, and more.

Their name, “Toloache,” comes from a flowering plant used in Mexican traditional medicine and rituals. Like the plant, Flor de Toloache’s music possesses healing qualities, blending harmonies, and rhythms that captivate audiences worldwide. The group’s lineup consists of violin, trumpet, vihuela, guitarrón, and guitar, along with powerful vocals. Their repertoire ranges from Classic Mariachi songs to original compositions, showcasing their versatility and creativity.

Flor de Toloache’s groundbreaking work has earned them widespread acclaim, including a Grammy Award for Best Regional Mexican Music Album in 2017, making them the first female Mariachi group to win this prestigious award. Through electrifying performances and boundary-pushing compositions, Flor de Toloache continues to redefine Mariachi music, inspiring audiences and paving the way for future generations of musicians.

A woman sings in front of fire works and string musicians

Future: Becky G (1997 – )

Becky G, the multi-talented singer-songwriter, actress, and dancer, made waves with her latest album “Esquinas” by incorporating elements of mariachi music into her signature pop-reggaeton sound. Released in 2021, “Esquinas” marked a significant departure from Becky G’s previous work, showcasing her versatility and cultural roots.

Born and raised in the United States to Mexican-American parents, Becky G embraces her heritage and incorporates Spanish-language music into her repertoire. With “Esquinas,” she delves deeper into her Mexican roots, infusing traditional mariachi instrumentation and rhythms into the album’s tracks. The incorporation of mariachi adds a vibrant and authentic layer to Becky G’s music, reflecting her ancestral pride and expanding her artistic boundaries. Songs like “Bésame” and “Si Si” feature mariachi-inspired arrangements, while still maintaining the infectious beats and catchy melodies that Becky G is known for.

By blending pop, reggaeton, and mariachi, Becky G’s “Esquinas” celebrates cultural fusion and represents a new chapter in her musical evolution. The album received critical acclaim for its bold experimentation and heartfelt lyrics, solidifying Becky G’s status as a trailblazer in the Latin music scene.