GARFIELD, NJ (CBSNew York) – In this Hispanic Heritage Month, we present to you a family who have passed down the musical art of mariachi through generations.
From toddlers to 80s, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner shows us how they share Mexican tradition with the world.
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The Ponce family is proud of its roots.
“I take great pride in playing music, and every time I wear my mariachi outfit it’s like putting on a Mexican flag,” Ramon Ponce Jr. told Rozner.
“It’s a lot for more. When I see my grandchildren singing Mexican songs… They represent Mexico, ”added Ramon Ponce Sr.
Ramon Ponce Sr., now 80, moved the family from Puebla, Mexico to New York to join a group when Ramon Ponce Jr. was 13.
“I’ve been in music my whole life, literally, since I was born,” said Ponce Jr. “I’m the fourth generation of musicians in my family.
This is no surprise as he celebrates his 30 years of playing alongside his father in the Mariachi Real group of Mexico, his 6-year-old son, Alexander, is also a natural.
“My dad taught me how to sing and play,” he told Rozner.
His 3-year-old sister, Angelina, is in training, and their 22-year-old cousin, Albert Reyes, plays the Mexican vihuela. Her 15-year-old sister also sings.
“It’s really part of who you are,” Reyes said.
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Mariachi dates back hundreds of years. It was a version of a Spanish theatrical orchestra in the countryside.
“At the start of music, when mariachi music started, they didn’t have bass, they only had the harp,” said Ponce Jr. “They made this instrument, and it has a big back. , because mariachi music is usually acoustic, we don’t use microphones… The shape of the guitarron gives it a lot of volume.
Instruments and clothing are custom made in Mexico.
“It’s called a ‘gala’ or ‘botonadura’, and we use sterling silver on our pants, which makes it more regal,” said Ponce Jr.
Mariachi is a family tradition that is usually learned at home. This is why Ponce Jr. created the Mariachi Academy 20 years ago, so that it can be shared with a larger community.
“This is a non-profit organization where we give free music lessons to young children in mariachi music, and we have served over 1,000 students, some of whom are now professional musicians,” he said. declared.
He gives words of wisdom from his father.
“Every time we go to play, it doesn’t matter if it’s Carnegie Hall or if it’s just someone’s backyard, we come in with the same confidence and the same strength and the same love, because it’s something. thing we love to do, ”he said. noted.
This passion radiates. The family have been invited to perform for Henry Kissenger, Marc Anthony, Tito Puente, on the New York Stock Exchange and on “The Cake Boss”.
The family say that in Mariachi there is a song for every situation. In Mexico, it is customary to perform at milestones, ranging from a baptism to a wedding.
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Ponce Jr. also told Rozner that his mother had recently passed away and that his father had considered quitting the trumpet, which he had been playing for 60 years. He told his dad it was the time when you needed to play the most, and said the mariachi therapy had helped him keep going and stay 80 years young.