By Pablo De Sainz
Mariachi music is a genre where children can develop and become icons in Mexican popular culture.
The perfect example is Pedrito Fernandez, today known as Pedro Fernandez, who at a very early age, entered the world of mariachi and caused great sensation among young Mexicans.
He started recording albums, acting in movies, and appearing regularly in TV shows. Fernandez grew up to become one of the most important modern mariachi singers.
Today, another young man is trying to follow Fernandez’ footsteps.
Today, it is Manuel Romero’s turn to put on the sombrero and record his first mariachi record, simply titled “Manuel Romero.”
The son of Mexican immigrants, Romero, who’s a San Jose, California, native, has released a beautiful album that includes 10 songs that at once reflect the freshness common to his 13 years of age, and a maturity that tells us he’s serious about his music career.
But don’t let his young age lead you to think he’s just a kid playing to be a mariachi artist. On contrary, this album is proof that he’s even more prepared than other adult mariachi singers.
The first track is “Todo para mi,” a tribute to mothers and motherhood. This song tells us of the important place mothers play in Mexicans’ character.
“Como tu no hay nadie en el mundo/ Eres tu quien alumbra mi vida con rumbo./ Que tu eres: todo para mi, madre mia.”
“Manuel Romero” is an album that also includes some of the classic themes in mariachi music. One of the most popular is, of course, the strong, proud, and honest macho Mexican man. “A que le tiran” captures the image of the brutal, uncowardly, drunken man:
“Soy un hombre que no conoce la debilidad/ A mi la suerte y el destino me da igual/ mis agallas ‘tan en su lugar.”
Young Romero’s voice is at its peak in the beautiful ballads included in the album.
“Va por mi” is a slow-tempo ballad that shows Romero will continue to grow to become a master of mariachi:
“Ven dame de ti/ seguridad/ enséñame un buen camino.”
One of the most complete songs in the album is “Una vez mas.” It is the story of a son who pays homage to his father, a man who’s left his family to cross the border to work in the U.S fields.
“Te fuiste para darnos otra suerte/ tus manos otra tierra han de labrar.”
But the most peculiar of all the songs is “Lejos de ti,” which has allussions to several classic mariachi songs, such as “Volver, volver,” by the idol Vicente Fernandez; “Piensa en mi,” and “Mexico lindo y querido.”
“Lejos de ti” shows the long mariachi tradition that Romero carries within him.
And although he’s barely 13, he’s been around.
The oldest of three brothers, Romero has sung to the Pope in Mexico City and the U.S. National Anthem in professional sports events.
Without a doubt, Romero is a young man who’s mariachi hat fits perfectly.