The celebrations for Day of the Dead kicked off at the ninth annual Día De Los Muertos Art Festival at the Downey Theater.
In a vibrant event the community joined to celebrate with face painting, food and music ranging from baile folklórico acts to salsa ensembles.
After the fun of face painting and all of these events came the euphoria of a stellar performance. Lupita Infante performed accompanied by Mariachi Herencia De México, a Chicago-based mariachi group who is mainly formed by young musicians.
“It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve gotten to meet 13 of the members. We’ve been traveling together so you get to know people really well,” said Infante, granddaughter of the legendary mariachi music star Pedro Infante.
Infante is a featured artist on the mariachi’s most recent album titled “Herederos” and is aware that her collaboration with the group serves as a trailblazing effort for the future of the genre. “It’s not just our job [as musicians], but I feel like it’s our duty. To carry these traditions. To have them be passed on to the new generations,” she adds.
With a great number of Latin Grammy nominations and quite some awards under her belt, Infante embodies the name of the newest album as she, together with the young mariachi group, looks to take this inheritance of a genre forward and transmit its emotions to the generations to come.
Marco Villela, a sophomore studying music education at DePaul University, came into the group after his mother scheduled an audition behind his back. Since then his love for classical music, jazz and mariachi music has led him to huge stages. Only 19 years old, Villela is one of the longest participating members of the group and feels inclined to continue the legacy of mariachi music.
“This is what our parents listen to, this is what our grandparents listen to,” he says, reminiscing about how before joining the mariachi he was not as big a fan of the genre. “Now that we are listening to this [music] we are appreciating this culture, like culture diffusion,” adds Villela.
At such an early age, Villela is for sure the heir to the music of previous generations. He was part of the group’s first album and recalls a collaboration-packed first experience; with greats like Mariachi Sol de México, Los Camperos and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. From a collaboration with Camila Cabello at a Christmas special in the White House, to the Univisionarios stage on national television and even to this performance with Lupita Infante. Villela has even toured the country and recognizes that this early in his career it is unheard of to do such things. “It’s really cool to be able to say that I am a college student and I am touring the world.”
Like Lupita infante, Marco Villela has put in a lot of effort, sacrifice and commitment to making the best of his career. From being a jazz enthusiast and not thinking of joining a mariachi, to becoming the arranger for the group and composing pieces later interpreted by greats like Chiquis Rivera, Joss Favela and Jose Manuel Figueroa. With such collaborations, the future of Mariachi music will remain in good hands.