GRAMMY-nominated mariachi conductor José Hernández recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. Hernández discussed his mariachi roots, collaborating with the San Francisco Symphony, Green Day and the Beach Boys, and the importance of music education, among other topics. Hernández also performed a brief set with Mariachi Sol De México, including the traditional mariachi song "Guadalajara" featured on the group's 1994 album, New York, New York.
"Growing up in my house was amazing," said Hernández. "My five older brothers and my father are all mariachi musicians, so I thought everybody in the whole world was a mariachi … until I went to kindergarten. I was 5, and I noticed that not everybody was a mariachi."
Born in Mexico, Hernández is a fifth-generation mariachi artist, skilled in playing the trumpet, violin, guitarrón, and vihuela. In 1981 he formed Mariachi Sol De México and subsequently released 15 albums with the band, including 1994's New York, New York and 1998's Acapulco Girls, which featured the Beach Boys on the title track (a reworked version of the band's "California Girls") and a cover of "Kokomo."
Mariachi Sol De México's 2006 effort, 25 Aniversario, garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album. In 1994 Hernandez formed the first American all-female mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles, with whom he's released three albums, including 2008's Compañeras, which garnered a GRAMMY nomination for 2009 for Best Regional Mexican Album and a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Ranchero Album.
Mariachi Sol De México are currently in the midst of an international tour, with select dates scheduled through September.