Creator and Executive Producer Rodri J. Rodriguez has overseen the phenomenon ignoring naysayers since the Festival’s inception.
While in awe of her creation’s success in bringing the music of the mariachi to the forefront, Rodriguez, the gutsy Latina who took a leap of faith in creating and producing the Festival in 1990, is well aware of the challenge she faces in producing the nearly five hour extravaganza which fills the Hollywood Bowl every year. “The success of the Festival does not rely on star drawing power because I have always positioned the Mariachis as the stars and the success is due to our fans that show up year after year for standing ovation performances by each and every group.”
For Rodriguez herself, a Cubana who came to the United States as part of the Operation Pedro Pan exodus and later fell in love with the traditional music of Mexico, the MARIACHI USA® Festival will always be about keeping traditions alive while blazing new trails.
“I can’t explain how Mariachi became imprinted on my DNA but it is there! Our shows are always alive, fresh, and passionate,” she exclaims. “Contrary to what some may think, Mariachi is not a fad, it’s a deeply rooted cultural expression, a magnificent legacy and I see myself as a guardian of that legacy. For our community Mariachi is very much a daily staple of life, like rice and beans but with lots of jalapeños mixed in. As for success of the Festival, I set the standard high, and the audience expects no less.”
To keep the mariachi tradition alive for generations to come, Rodri also founded the MARIACHI USA® Foundation, a non-profit organization providing school aged children, from elementary to high school, a mariachi music education. Students receive training and get a chance to perform at the Bowl Plaza during the afternoon activities prior to the start of the show.