MARIACHI USA, the premier mariachi festival in the U.S., is headed to Cuba for a historic performance.
The show will visit La Habana on October 4-11 as part of a seven-day, six-night tour offered by Cuba Tours and Travel, said Rodri J. Rodriguez, founder of MARIACHI USA and a longtime concert producer.
The show's company of 25 artists will perform on October 9th at Teatro America, a historic theater built in the 1940s that has hosted international top talent over the years.
Rodriguez, who created MARIACHI USA nearly 27 years ago, said the festival will offer Cuban audiences a taste of the same mariachi experience that thrills audiences at the Hollywood Bowl each year.
"I'm taking a smaller version of what we do at the Hollywood Bowl," Rodriguez said. "Our sole purpose is to entertain the people of Cuba in a very unique cultural exchange, uniting three countries. We are creating a labor of love, celebrating music and the spirit of humanity."
Creating a space for mariachi on the world stage has been Rodriguez's passion since 1990.
She founded MARIACHI USA because she believes "a world-class music deserves a world-class stage." She was also convinced that more people would love mariachi when they experienced it in a proper forum. Creating that space for mariachi took hard work, grit, and an unshakable belief in the music. MARIACHI USA made history when it became the second longest running show to play at the Hollywood Bowl and the only annual Latino-themed event. The five-hour festival features mariachi bands from the U.S. and Mexico, traditional folklorico dances and spectacular fireworks.
"I consider myself a guardian of legacy and to me mariachi is a magnificent legacy rooted in family, pride and tradition," Rodriguez said.
That legacy extends to Cuba. Earlier generations of Cubans enjoyed the music of Mexican artists such as Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, who visited in the 1940s and 50s, Rodriguez said. More recently mariachi has experienced resurgence in Cuba and is a popular choice for quinceañeras. Audiences in Cuba are enthusiastically anticipating MARIACHI USA.
In addition to performing, MARIACHI USA's musicians/singers and dancers will hold workshops with local performers and students.
"My driving passion has always been to go back to Cuba to entertain my people, to do what I do best," said Rodriguez.