Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

America’s first all-female mariachi group bring the rich cultural heritage of Latin America to Santa Barbara County

Mariachi Reyna performed at El Camino Elementary on Friday
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
Mariachi Reyna performed at El Camino Elementary on Friday

Mariachi Reyna are performing for free in Santa Barbara County.

Dressed in long red skirts, embellished with white embroidered details, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles are blazing a trail for women in a male-dominated musical genre with every note they play.

They’ve performed for Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise - but on Friday, they're here performing at Goleta’s only Spanish immersion school, El Camino Elementary.

"The mariachi consists of typically violins, trumpets, a harp, guitarron, which would be basically our bass, and vihuela - which is a little smaller than a guitar and has five strings versus six, and then a guitar. Then we have vocalists as well, and we just harmonize and we play very festive music. It's just very lively and very emotional, like all music and very emotional traditional music of Mexico," said Laura Pena from Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.

She says it’s an opportunity to inspire the next generation of musicians.

"We started in 1994 and there wasn't a group made of all women where the little girls could look up to them and strive to be them," said Pena.

"If we're here to spark a little bit of interest for the students and it actually works, and they are interested in it and intrigued, then it just it fulfills our duty to inspire that in young students, for them to also grow like we did and want to learn the instrument and want to learn about the music and want to learn about the culture," she said.

They're also performing as part of Viva el Arte de Santa Barbara
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
They're also performing as part of Viva el Arte de Santa Barbara

Kyla Kinzler, the Acting Principal Designee at the school says it’s exciting to have the group perform there.

"We are the only dual language immersion school in our district. It is part of our diversity and equity and inclusion emphasis here in embracing all cultures and languages and celebrating the diversity that we see around us in our world," said Kinzler.

In the front row, the Kindergarteners have been watching and clapping along.

"I liked about it that they had all the instruments," said one. Another said, "I like the sound of the instruments," and another told KCLU, "I like how they had a lot of instruments."

There are also three free community public performances as part of Viva El Arte de Santa Barbara, on Friday January 19 at 7pm at Isla Vista School, Saturday January 20 at Guadalupe City Hall at 7pm and at 6pm Sunday January 21 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre in Santa Barbara.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.