Weber State University’s Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities hosted a virtual performance of the all-female mariachi group Flor de Toloache on Feb. 5 as the feature event of the Browning Presents! series for spring 2021.
Flor de Toloache is an internationally known group that made history as New York’s “first and only all-female mariachi group” and won a Latin Grammy award for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album in 2017.
Flor de Toloache works to preserve centuries-old traditions of mariachi music while fusing tradition with the modern, pushing at the boundaries of the genre and bringing mariachi music to new audiences.
Their website describes their music as an “edgy, versatile and fresh take on traditional Mexican music. They coalesce as would a band of sisters, with a grace and vibrant beauty that casts a spell over their audiences not unlike the legendary Toloache flower still being used in Mexico as a love potion.”
The group has toured internationally as well as extensively across the United States. They have also collaborated with artists such as John Legend, Miguel and Alex Cuba.
“Flor de Toloache is breaking barriers and bringing people together through their amazing music,” said Deborah Uman, dean of Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities.
The performance included Mireya Ramos, founder of Flor de Toloache, as vocals and violin, Shae Fiol, founding member, as vocals and vihuela and Julie Acosta as vocals and trumpet. Also included in the performance were Elena Lacayo as guest guitarron player and Velcro as guest rapper.
The group performed their signature blend of progressive yet traditional mariachi music. Some songs were sung in Spanish and others in both Spanish and English, including some mariachi covers of modern songs.
“In these difficult times, a mariachi performance will be like medicine to our souls to embrace beautiful music and a taste of Mexican culture,” said Luis Lopez, director of WSU’s Community Engagement Center.
Throughout the performance the members shared their personal musical and artistic inspirations. For Ramos, it was her dad.
Ramos was born in California, but her dad was from Puerto Rico. He was involved in a mariachi group, so Ramos grew up with the music and fell in love with it through her relationship to him.
“I would just watch him and be in awe while he would be singing and connecting with people with this beautiful music,” Ramos said. “I wanted to connect with people in that way, and I wanted to play this music.”
For Fiol, her inspiration is the diversity of poetry, art, music and people that she found in Brooklyn when she moved to New York in her 20s.
All three members of Flor de Toloache talked about their families and friends as being sources of inspiration and support.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group said they’ve still been able to continue with their music. Their fourth album is underway, and they’ve continued to collaborate with other artists. They plan to resume touring as soon as they can.
The Browning Presents! program features public performances and educational residencies of artistic excellence in a diverse range of disciplines with the goal of enhancing cultural richness and performing arts education along the northern Wasatch Front.