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Community Crusader Jose Hernandez

Songwriter, producer, arranger and leader of Mariachi Sol de Mexico ensures that mariachi music continues to endure

By Shirley Hawkins
Published on LatinoLA: September 17, 2012


Community Crusader Jose Hernandez


Originally published at California Crusader News

Mariachi music has entranced people for generations with its beautiful rhythms and melodies, and one of the people ensuring that mariachi music continues to endure is musician Jose Hernandez.

A fifth generation musician, Hernandez is a visionary who has been taking mariachi music to new heights. Locally, customers have enjoyed the sweet sounds of mariachi music performed by Hernandez and his band, Sol de Mexico, at the popular Celito Lindo restaurant in South El Monte, Calif.

"Mariachi music is very happy, passionate music," said Hernandez, who added that the music is particularly popular not only in the United States, but also in Mexico and South America. "Mariachi music celebrates everything. itss frequently played at weddings and celebrations, or performed to serenade one's fiancé."

Hernandez, a songwriter, producer and arranger who is a master at the violin, trumpet, guitarron and piano, has a long list of musical credits to his name. The busy musician has been instrumental in collaborating with music scorers for the films "Rango," "Dispicable Me II," "American Me" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua II." The twice Grammy nominated musician's newest album, "La Musica" that features classical musica first -- has just soared to the number one spot on iTunes.

The musician arranged and wrote five of the songs for his latest CD "La Musica featuring Sol de Mexico." He also wrote and arranged songs for Vicki Carr's 50th anniversary album "Viva La Vida" which is scheduled to be released on Sept. 22nd.
Celebrities are also embracing mariachi music. "Sol de Mexico played for George Harrison at his wedding in 1976," Hernandez recalls. "He became one of our good friends. We also played for the late actor Jimmy Stewart and at John Travolta's 50th birthday party."

Jose Feliciano, Linda Ronstadt, the late Selena, the Beach Boys, Glen Campbell and Roseanne Cash have tapped Hernandez to write songs for their CDs.

During the National Hispanic Heritage Month of September, Hernandez and Sol de Mexico appeared with the legendary Luis Miguel in Las Vegas.

"We are honored to be appearing with Luis Miguel," said Hernandez, who said that Sol de Mexico has toured with Miguel since 2006. "He is a consummate performer and a good friend."

"Mariachi music also continues to win international fans," said Hernandez. "Sol de Mexico was officially invited by the governments of China and North Korea to represent the music of Mexico at their annual music festivals."

Recently, Sol de Mexico serenaded megastar Lady Gaga at Celito Lindo for her 25th birthday. "A producer friend wanted to surprise her, so when Lady Gaga arrived, we played four of her favorite songs. She got out of the chair and started singing with us ... it became an emotional celebration."

Stateside, Hernandez and Sol de Mexico have performed at the White House and serenaded five presidents: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr., and Barack Obama.

Hernandez states one of his proudest achievements is forming Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles in 1994, the first all-woman mariachi band in the United States. The group has twice been nominated for a Grammy. In 1991, he founded the nonprofit Mariachi Heritage Society, a foundation that teaches mariachi music to undeserved children.

"I started the Mariachi Heritage Society as a gift to my father, who was passing away," said Hernandez. "I wanted to create a foundation that would make him proud. So far, we have trained 8,000 kids to play mariachi music.

Mariachi lovers can enjoy Hernandez and Sol de Mexico from Thursday through Friday at the Celito Lindo restaurant located at 1612 N. Santa Anita Avenue in South El Monte. Call (626) 442-1254 or visit their website at www.celitolindo.com.

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