You hear them at parties, at quinceneras, at marriage celebrations, at restaurant’s, and on television. Mariachis are part of the soundtrack of South Texas. Their beautiful suits and their strong gritos is as much as part of our identity, as Tejano music is, but for now our mariachis are largely silenced. Their livelihoods depend on events and the coronavirus has shut them all down in the foreseeable future.
Hector Roldan, an independent mariachi singer, who was expecting a busy Spring between Cinco De Mayo and Mother’s Day is now on hold with social distancing orders by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Greg Abbott, held a press conference on Monday and ordered for stay-at-home orders to be relinquished so the economy can open back up, but not without social distancing conditions of no more than 25% of capacity for businesses, such as restaurants. The capacity of restaurants and event centers where mariachis perform will be empty and a grim outlook for those in a mariachi , but for how long?
There doesn’t seem to be a petition for mariachi economic relief by government officials or citizens due the cash transactions from promoters and planners for mariachi performances, but mariachis are trying to stay alive. The mariachi community is affected due to no government aid, such as stimulus check and it is a travesty for mariachis who define South Texas and play a major role in Corpus Christi life.
Not only are mariachis going through a difficult time, but all musicians are as well. With many college and high school celebrations in peoples backyard, it is completely quiet this Spring. Many of the mariachi members cannot even have a rehearsal on Zoom or Skype due to different internet speeds of members, some maybe be slower than others, which is vital to be in sync and harmony with vocals. Some video chat applications, like Zoom, freeze making vocals glitch and off tempo practices.
There are videos from artists such as Mariah Carey and different orchestra bands who have made coronavirus videos that look like they are playing live, but in actuality are playing individually recorded in their own homes and than edited.
But, “nothing is like performing live with audiences to feel the emotions” says Hector Roldan, who is known as the “Mariachi Legend” from the Rio Grande Valley to Laredo, Texas. Roldan says it’s devastating for his livelihood and who has been performing for my than 30 years with more than 1,000 performances under his undisputed belt.
“Amor eterno” by Juan Gåbriel is a much needed song to be heard during these difficult times says Hector Roldan. It’s about a person who has died like your mother, brother, or friend and it they cannot be forgotten says Roldan. “Cruz De Olvido” by Juan Zaizar is another good song that Hector Roldan would like to sing to audiences. Many of the songs he wants to perform are about someone who has passed away because many people are dying from the pandemic COVID-19.
“You can’t even see the ones that are dying right now because of the Nueces County stay at home order” says Roldan.
Will Mariachi music survive?