Mother McAuley student nominated for Latin Grammy

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, a student mariachi group, was nominated for a Latin Grammy this year. Bryana Martinez, a sophomore at Mother McAuley High School, is in the front row, fourth from the right. (Photo provided)

It’s not every high school student who can claim a nomination to a Latin Grammy.

Bryana Martinez, a sophomore at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, traveled to Las Vegas with the mariachi group Mariachi Herencia de Mexico for the Latin Grammys on Nov. 16. The student group, whose members range from 11 to 18 years old, saw its debut album, “Nuestra Herencia,” designated the No. 2 top Latin album on iTunes and were nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album category.

The award went to Las Caras Lindas by Flor De Toloache.

Martinez said she began playing the violin when she was 4 years old, starting with classical music. She added mariachi to her repertoire when she was about 9, she said. 

Now she is one of the group’s youth leaders. She sings and plays the trumpet as well as the violin.

She also performs in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and orchestral and band groups and choir at Mother McAuley, as well as Mariachi Herencia de Mexico.

She loves mariachi, she said, because of how expressive it is.

“When people are playing mariachi music, you understand the feelings the person is giving you,” she said. “You don’t have to understand the words to understand what the person is trying to say.”

Most days, she said, she spends about two hours practicing mariachi music. That’s on top of practicing music for the school and youth orchestras as well, and doing schoolwork.

Jennifer Busk, communications director at Mother McAuley, said the school is extremely proud of Martinez.

“Bryana is an amazing young woman, truly representative of what we seek to cultivate in our young women,” Busk said. 

Martinez’s family lived in Gage Park when she was born, and she attended Sandoval School there before going to Ridge Central School in Chicago Ridge, St. Gerald School in Oak Lawn and Our Lady of the Ridge School in Chicago Ridge. She and her family are parishioners at Our Lady of the Ridge.

Mariachi Herencia de Mexico is part of the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, a Chicago non-profit created in 2013 by investment banker Cesar Maldonado. The foundation teaches mariachi music in eight Chicago Public Schools whose students are primarily of Mexican descent. Membership in the orchestra is decided by audition.

The album, which took months to put together, was produced and arranged by Los Angeles-based José Hernandez, and it includes well-known mariachi artists from Mexico such as Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and the Los Camperos, Sol de México and Reyna de Los Angeles ensembles from California.

Submitting the album for the Latin Grammys was just supposed to be a way to gauge the group’s success, Martinez said, adding that the official nomination was a surprise.

But maybe not too much, since Mariachi Herencia de Mexico has been garnering all kinds of attention. In September, the group traveled to New York and headlined the Kennedy Center’s Mexican Independence Day event.

Before the trip, Martinez said the thing she was most looking forward to is the opportunity to meet all the Latin music stars who will be at the Latin Grammys.

While Martinez will move on from Mariachi de Mexico when she graduates from high school, she’d like to attend either DePaul or Northwestern University and become a professional violinist or a music therapist, she said.


  • catholic schools

Related Articles