CHICAGO (CBS) — When you think of a high school band, mariachi doesn’t usually come to mind. However, a group of Chicago students is so good, they’re up for a Latin Grammy.

CBS 2’s Sandra Torres spoke to the band’s lead violinist, 15-year-old Bryana Martinez, who says drawing the bow across violin strings brings her joy.

mariachi herencia 0579 c2ac meg rachel Chicago Schools Mariachi Group Up For Latin Grammy

Some of the violinists in the band. (Photo: Mariachi Herencia de México)

“The sound and all the different types of ways that you can play the violin is just really amazing,” she said. Even more so, when it comes to playing mariachi, which is her favorite traditional Mexican folk music. “You get to put a lot of your feelings into it.”

The sophomore at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School has been playing the instrument since she was 4-years-old.

Now, she’s part of “Mariachi Herencia de Mexico,” a band made up of 18 Chicago area students from the ages of 11 to 18. The band has been nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Mariachi Album, after debuting their CD, Nuestra Herencia (Our Heritage).

mariachi herencia cd cover Chicago Schools Mariachi Group Up For Latin Grammy

The cover of Nuestra Herencia. (Photo: Mariachi Herencia de México)

Produced by top mariachi musician José Hernández, the CD features guest appearances by Mariachi Vargas, Sol de Mexico, Los Camperos and Reyna de Los Angeles. It ranked No. 2 in its first week on iTunes’ Latin chart when it was released.

“We’re competing against mostly adults, and we’re the only kids in the category,” Martinez said.

The album, released in May, is believed to be the first major mariachi recording released in the United States by a student ensemble.

“The kids were really excited about the whole experience, being in a recording studio,” Bryana’s mom, Nancy Martinez, said. “The members of the mariachi group come from Pilsen, Little Village, Gage Park, Brighton Park — and I think that that’s something to be very proud of.”

The band members and their families will fly to Las Vegas on Thursday for the Latin Grammy Awards, and they’re hopeful their hard work will pay off.

“I know that they’re going to make Chicago very proud. Whether they win the Grammy or not, I think they’re already winners,” Nancy said.


Watch & Listen LIVE