Laura Sobrino- Rest in Peace

24 May

Oh Laura I’m so saddened at your sudden death! Laura Sobrino will forever be known as the Queen of Mariachi- “La Grandota” with her 6 foot 1 inch stature. Laura is considered to be one of two female musicians to break barriers and play in all male mariachi groups in the United States. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be amazing to shut down any critics. She played for Mariachi Los Galleros de Pedro Rey and Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez.- two incredibly amazing influential and groundbreaking groups in US mariachi history. Mariachi Los Galleros was a powerhouse mariachi group in particular: everyone who become a part of Los Galleros went on to be a giant and celebrity in the mariachi world. Pedro Rey was a monster in the mariachi world as he had one of the most amazing voices plus he was a fabulous musician and song writer.

Here is a clip of them with Laura Sobrino in the back:

and this video is a MONSTER of talent! Just wow! The voices are flawless and the instruments are fascinating to watch as they are also flawless: 

Back to Laura: After spending time with the Galleros, Laura spent even more time with Mariachi Sol de Mexico. Here they can be seen accompanying Las Jilguerillas:

But what was the most amazing about Laura is that she believed in education- specifically mariachi education. She began her own company when she started to write out mariachi music. Mariachi is normally learned by ear. This means that you were supposed to learn music by listening and memorizing only. Sheet music for mariachi did not exist and Laura began to write music down and then selling it as a profit. In the late 80’s and early 90’s mariachi programs began to pop up in the US and sheet music was beginning to be in demand. Her website: Mariachi Publishing Company is still going strong.

In the 90’s something else magical happened. Jose Hernandez, being the genius entrepreneur that he is, wanted to form an all female group and had Laura lead the way in forming this all female supergroup in the US. The result would be Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, my all time favorite and most influential mariachi group. Being a fighter that she is, Laura left Reyna after disagreeing with Jose Hernandez over the direction of the group. While Reyna was an all female group, all decisions including the song writing were done by Jose. It was led by males, but performed by women. In the meantime Laura continued to teach both privately and publicly in schools and at University of California Riverside. Laura was a skilled educator who pushed and believed in her students. She touched the lives of students and instilled a “go for it” attitude. In 2011, I met Laura at a local mariachi festival and after listening to my story of wanting to start a mariachi in Santa Ana she told me “then what are you waiting for? Do it! Its not impossible.” And she was right.

In 2000, she and Marisa Orduño formed Mariachi Mujer 2000 forming another all female mariachi super group led, directed and wrote songs by and for women. They played sporadically as all of the members lived all over the US and only reunited for special events.  My mariachi friends and I described the ladies of Mujer 2000 as “Fierce” as they all look so intense and hardcore.

Here is a clip of Mujer 2000 :

More recently Laura became the US representative for Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan and Juan Mendoza, nephew of mariachi legend Amalia Mendoza. I met Juan Mendoza in 2014 also as a fellow judge in a mariachi festival. The man is an awe inspiring singer yet he couldn’t find a gig until Laura Sobrino fought for him. He’s a very jolly man who is truly passionate for music as it runs through his veins. Laura’s facebook cover picture is Juan Mendoza. Again another life that Laura has touched and left a mark.

Countless books, documentaries and articles have been written about Laura Sobrino. I own many of them as she is inspiring to listen to her speak of her adventures as a woman in mariachi. Laura is not just a pioneer, entrepreneur and CREATOR of bringing life to the impossible, but also a massive supporter of mariachi festivals all over the US, Rosarito, and Guadalajara. She lets her TALENT and drive take over.

With her passing these are the words that have been used to describe her: icon, legend, pioneer, “you believed in us,” COMPAñERA, unica, incomparable, tireless work, and paving the way for future generations…. etc. The list goes on.

Here is a link to a 1995 article written about her:

I relate to Laura because she has done what I strive to do in life: create from the impossible, do what has never been done before, educate our youth in particular young girls, spread the mariachi word, and represent with pride. We both encountered the backlash and side comments for being a female musician in a male dominated mariachi world. Yet we both have proved ourselves time and time again. I met her on several occassions and every single time I was left in awe just being in the same room as her. Thank you Laura for your inspiration and for paving the way for women in mariachi!



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