Student-led mariachi band flourishes

Baylor freshman Isaiah Herrera brings a huge aspect of Hispanic culture to Baylor by creating a mariachi group. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Herrera

By Luke Brown | Guest Contributor

El Paso freshman Isaiah Herrera was shocked and disappointed to learn that Baylor was lacking something he deeply cared about. However, he did not let that stop him from bringing his passion of mariachi to life at the university.

Herrera grew up playing classical music and began honing his musical talent from a young age. In seventh grade, his teacher approached him and asked if he wanted to join a mariachi band. This offer began a new journey for him.

“I wasn’t really too familiar with the music, but when I dove into it, I absolutely fell in love with it,” Herrera said.

He found a deep appreciation for the music, so he continued playing in a mariachi band through high school, and he wasn’t ready to stop as he enrolled at Baylor.

“Mariachi grew into something I felt like I needed to do,” Herrera said.

Mariachi is a style of music with a specific aesthetic and sound that originated in Mexico. It has deep ties with Mexican culture, and many share a passion for the unique style, according to Herrera. He learned many things about mariachi as he played and dove deeper into its roots.

“Although this music is a symbol of the Hispanic culture, its songs are enjoyed all over the world because of their ability to integrate our deepest emotions with music,” Herrera said. “Mariachi is our happiness, sadness, pride and love, told through music that directly touches our hearts.”

When he arrived at Baylor, he asked many people whether there was a mariachi band on campus. He said he was sad to learn that there was nothing in place, so he took it upon himself to start one.

He became friends with a few students who were familiar with mariachi, and they decided to place posters around campus about the group to gauge interest. They were contacted by several students who were excited about the idea, and they began to meet and rehearse weekly in the Glennis McCrary Music Building in September 2021.

“It started off super slow because we didn’t have anything,” Waco freshman Michael Aguilar, a member of the group, said. “We didn’t have a suit, and we weren’t even a student organization at that point. We were just a bunch of people saying that we were a mariachi band.”

After a few months, they began playing small shows for campus events. They have since become an official organization on Baylor’s Connect, and they also have created an Instagram page for the band.

Although they have seen success, it still feels slow at times, Aguilar said. He sometimes feels discouraged by the lack of interest and awareness of the group, but has not let that break his spirit.

“I’m trying to think of not what it is now, but what it can be in the future,” Aguilar said.

The group has continued to play shows on campus and plans to keep booking shows. The members share a common desire to promote diversity and raise awareness for Hispanic culture through the group, Herrera said.

Herrera said he believes mariachi is a beautiful style of music that can be enjoyed and appreciated by all cultures, so he hopes to bring that to fruition at Baylor.

Herrera and the band strive to provide entertainment on Baylor’s campus while also promoting diversity in the community, according to their Instagram page. While these goals are still in the small stages, they have already started to be accomplished through the dream of an ambitious freshman.

Herrera said he’s glad he didn’t allow the lack of an established group stop him from bringing his passion for mariachi to Baylor. He created something with a clear mission that has brought something brand new to Baylor’s community that he said he hopes will continue.

“My goal is to see it carry on for years and years, even after I leave,” Herrera said.