Mireya I. Ramos, violinist, vocalist, composer and arranger, was born into a family of musicians. Her father sang mariachi and she grew up with a deep love for the classic Mexican music. When she decided she wanted to play mariachi, she noticed there weren’t many women performing, so she started Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the first and only all female mariachi band in New York City.
Historically, mariachi groups have been made up mostly of Mexican men, so Mariachi Flor de Toloache represents a very small, but growing movement of female bands and players.
Founded in 2008, the group started as a trio and has since grown to a rotating roster of 13 members, representing a variety of cultural backgrounds. The diversity of the group plays a role in the unique style Mariachi Flor de Toloache brings to their music. Combining influences from R&B, hip-hop, jazz, salsa, and soul with traditional mariachi, they have created a sound all their own.
After many years of practicing around NYC in subway stations, the women put out their first album last year, which hit #2 on the iTunes Latin charts, and was nominated for a 2015 Latin Grammy Award.
Paving the way for bands like Mariachi Flor de Toloache is Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, an all-female mariachi band based in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1999 by Cindy Shea. In 2009, they became the first all-female mariachi band ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award, and the first to win one.
“We bring something very refreshing,” Mireya said about Mariachi Flor de Toloache. “We have our own power and own command that we have to work harder for, however that translates, it’s different and special.”
We couldn’t agree more!
Check out this terrific short doc on the band…
To see more videos, and info on live performances, follow Mariachi Flor de Toloache on Facebook.
Lead photo via Flor de Toloache.