We continue our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by introducing you to a group of women shaking up traditional Mexican music. They call themselves Mariachi Sirenas and they’re inspiring a new generation of Latinas.
It takes practice… and a lot of heart. To make the kind of music that has elevated all eleven of these women to become one of the most sought-after mariachi bands in the midwest. But it wasn’t until three years ago that Ibet Herrera helped launch Mariachi Sirenas. If you’re wondering what that means – sirenas means mermaids. But no matter what language you speak, They’ve made a splash on a traditionally male-dominated industry. Half of the girls have full-time jobs and the others are college students and 1 high schooler. So between sneakers and book bags, every week is packed with gigs and if they are lucky they get Mondays off.
But it hasn’t been easy. They had to first win the support of their peers and they would get a lot of “But you guys are just women, why are you charging that much.” and then the public was used to the deeper tones of all-male mariachi performers. Today, people are singing a different tune.
While they’re the only all-female mariachi group in Chicago – women have contributed to this style of music for generations. There have been female marteacheras – a female mariachi group actually performed went to Vietnam in the USO shows, and a lot has changed since then. Just like their traJes, they have more of a mermaid skirt.
Las Sirenas has for the most part stuck to tradition, Keeping music and lyrics, with just slight adjustments to the sound. This is hard especially for the trumpets because you can only go so high, once you change it to the female key. They wanted to make sure everyone feels comfortable and not put on a literal mask to fit this idea of what a mariachi woman should look like.
Yes, mermaids are known for pushing the envelope a bit. Legend has it they sometimes lure sailors to danger. But in this case, Las Sirenas main goal is to sing at one of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks – Millennium park.