By The Lincoln Center
Founded in 2008, Flor de Toloache started out singing on the subways of New York City as a way to get their name out. Today, New York’s first and only all-female mariachi band is a Grammy Award-winning group that performs to sold-out audiences across the globe. Over the years they have united audiences through music and culture, bringing joy to thousands of people. Soon they will be sharing their unique sound with Northern Colorado audiences when they take The Lincoln Center stage on November 13, 2022.
Shae Fiol, co-founder and co-director of Flor de Toloache, has been with the group since day one. “I started playing the vihuela, a high-pitched guitar-like instrument, to be in the group. Joint co-founder Mireya Ramos inspired me to play mariachi when she came up with the idea to start an all-women group.”
Mariachi has largely been considered a uniquely Mexican sound but Fiol sees it as a much deeper connection around the world. “Mariachi absolutely does not come from one source,” says Fiol. “It is in itself a blend of traditions and varied musical disciplines in Mexico and beyond. It has Cuban, Colombian, European and Aztec influences. So when traditionalists argue and say that Flor de Toloache ‘isn’t mariachi’ it’s not true. We are an expression of mariachi that is new and unique to the region where we are from.”
Fiol goes on to say, “We poured ourselves and our background influences into the music and really let ourselves be inspired by our unique makeup and let it speak through music.”
When most people think about mariachi music they think about an all-male musical ensemble dressed in all black with sombreros. Traditionally, mariachi has been performed by men and is still a male-dominated musical genre.
However, mariachi hasn’t always been this way. “Mariachi started as a violin, guitarra de golpe and harp. It was played in white ‘peasant’ outfits and over time became more flashy. Other instruments were added for a more dramatic sound.” Because of this, Fiol sees mariachi as a continuum and Flor de Toloache is blazing a new path.
The challenges that Flor de Toloache has faced haven’t broken them but instead built them up. “We never gave up. We have been paid less, not paid at all, overlooked, have influenced but not been acknowledged—all of the things that come with being a woman,” says Fiol. “All that to say, we wouldn’t trade our challenges because they made us even less inclined to conform and more steadfast to be true to ourselves and pursue our musical dreams.”
Celebrating mariachi’s rich cultural history seems especially significant during Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month which began in September and runs through October 15. Flor de Toloache fully embraces this yearly opportunity. “We love to celebrate cultures and come together through music. That is usually what this time of year means. It is a time to unite through music and [we] love that we get to bring that joy to people.”
The talented ensemble is enthusiastic to show off their musical abilities to Fort Collins as well as create relationships and inspire. “I love connecting with people, expressing my heart and leaving people inspired to be creative, to love, to feel and connect with others.”
Share in Flor de Toloache’s art, culture, heritage and unique sound at The Lincoln Center on November 13, 2022. Tickets start at only $15 and are available at LCtix.com.