home    news/reviews    editorials    new talent     interviews     randumb videos     discussion board     info/contact

Mariachi Divas
members present:
Cindy Shea (founder), Diana McConnell,
Martha Ramirez, Catherine Baeza,
Angel Garcia, Adelaide “Pili” Benavides,
Ariana Mejia, Jasmine Garcia, Melena,
Lorena Panella, Rosalie Rodriguez
and Valerie Carlos.
conducted on:
August 2009
by: Nevra Azerkan
official website
shout-out to PZO


PZO: You have your own record label. Have you signed other artists or is it solely for the Divas?
Cindy Shea: I did start my own record label, Shea Records. My last name is Shea. It is simply for Mariachi Divas. I also have a distribution label which is East Side Records. So we are a team and together we distribute CDs all over the world.

PZO: What is your main goal to accomplish that you have not done already?
Cindy: My main goal to accomplish actually it’s already been done. So I’ve had to create new goals now. Since I started playing music with the Mariachi Divas together ten years ago it was my ultimate dream to win a Grammy. That was like the big dream you never think possible you dream really big and it happened last year. So it’s kind of surreal for me right now. I’m still enjoying that and I kind of don’t even want to make new goals right now because I want to enjoy the feeling of actually making a huge goal and having it come true. I’m actually enjoying the music for the first time not having to feel like I have to prove myself over and over again. I just go on stage and play music and just love what I do. I’m really proud of that.
PZO: I’m sure being nominated was amazing in itself.
Cindy: Being nominated was a win in itself. I’m still in shock I can still close my eyes and put myself back in that same day and that same moment and cry.
PZO: How did it feel when you found out?
Cindy: Shocked. I just didn’t think it was real. I still smile. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it. Besides having my son, it was the greatest moment of my life. I never will be able to relive what that felt like. If we can get more fabulous, if not, I am a happy camper I’ve done what I’ve needed to do.

PZO: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned in past experiences in your career?
Cindy: The best lesson I have learned is don’t wait for people to make things happen for you. A lot of people will promise you things and say, I can do this for you, I can do that for you. If you have a dream you have to make it happen. You have to go out with your hands, your feet, your brain and your intelligence and you have to make things happen yourself and always keep your dignity while doing it. Never sell yourself. There’s always a way. Anybody can do it. Anybody can make their dream come true. If you just set a goal, stick to it and keep focused. Never make excuses. There’s no excuse for not capturing your dream. You get one chance in life. Lessons I’ve learned is don’t waste time. Go for it, just go for it. Give it a hundred percent.

PZO: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Cindy: The best advice I’ve ever been given is to never accept where I am at. Never say well I’ve done enough. Never say I’m good enough. Never say I don’t need to practice, I don’t need study. Oh well I have my Grammy so I don’t need to do anything else. There is always something to do. Now that we have the Grammy I’ve gotten more into education. Talking to kids and trying to inspire them. I am an educator now. I’m starting to work at more schools and talking to the kids about following their dreams, and learning more about music. Not just plain Mariachi music, but music in general: music theory, reading music, writing music and maybe teaching them about the business of music. That’s an important thing. A lot of people walk into the music business and they don’t know about it. Those were things I had to learn on my own. Just stuff like that.
PZO: That’s great how you are giving back to the community.
Cindy: I want to give back. I’m a mother too, so it’s my instinct to want to educate.

PZO: What’s event in your life had the greatest impact on you?
Cindy: The Grammy. No question the greatest impact. It changed my life. The trophy didn’t change my life. What changed my life is the fact I made a goal and I stood by it and through every negative comment or idea or somebody putting me down I got over it. I didn’t let anybody stop me. I proved to myself and to a lot of people, dream big and you go for it, you never give up, anything is possible. To me that was the greatest.

PZO: Is there anything the group would like to do before the end of the year?

Pili: Go out of the country.
Cindy: To  do more travelling internationally.
Pili: Broaden my horizons.
Angel: Basically a European tour would be very nice.
Cindy: I definitely want to record some type of tribute song or maybe a few songs to Michael Jackson because he was my favorite.

PZO: What was your most memorable performance?

Angel: Mine was actually when we went back to my hometown. It was one of my first years with the Divas. We went back to Tuscon. That was like the longest cumbia we ever played for a good half hour straight. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. That’s like the one gig that always stands out in my head.
Pili: I liked the one we played at the elementary school and all the kids went crazy.
Angel: Remember the mosh pit?
Pili: All the teachers were looking at each other scared. They were really worried, but everything turned out just fine.
Angel: I’ve never seen eight year olds start a mosh pit.
Pili: To Mariachi music.
Cindy: I have one. My favorite happens every year at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. It’s very sad, it’s for the terminal ward. It’s a non-paid gig. It’s something we volunteer to do. To me it’s the most fulfilling thing we do every year because we make such a difference in their lives. We got so many parents telling us thank you. These kids can’t go home for Christmas and we’re bringing them music, we’re giving one smile to them that they didn’t have. I couldn’t do that alone. But as Mariachi Divas as a group we can do so much.
Valerie: One memorable moment I would say would be when the Mariachi Divas played with the Jewish Symphony. It was a very interesting performance having to play with an orchestra and a mariachi combined together. That was very memorable for me as part of the Mariachi Divas.
PZO: That was actually the first time I saw you all perform. It was an amazing show.

PZO: What is the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome as a group?

Cindy: First of all, racial; me being Irish, Italian and American and a band leader. Trying to run a band as an American girl, a white girl and then having a multicultural group of girls from Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rican descent just about from everywhere. Also, Mexican American. It’s been very hard because people have put us down for that. A lot of people put us down saying we’re not traditional. A lot of people don’t know about the history. They just can’t accept it. They either like good music or they don’t. It’s been hard to overcome the boundaries of people wanting to put us down for who we are, for the visual aspect and for the music aspect also. That we’re women in general, this is male dominated music.

PZO: How does it feel to be in a multicultural group?

Rosalie: It’s really good to be from a different part of the world. Especially for somebody like me who is mixed, half and half. So I still get to bring in the traditional Mexican flavor, but I also get to bring in my Puerto Rican side. It’s cool to be able to incorporate all of that.
Valerie: You get to meet girls from different parts of the world. They have different backgrounds and it’s very interesting to get to know them. It’s very nice.
Melena: I enjoy it very much. I think it’s wonderful to play different styles of music. I’m always about innovation and being able to explore different rhythms and different styles and incorporate all of it.
Lorena: (translation) I am very proud to be Argentinean. I never knew I would be in a Mariachi especially in the United States. I am very grateful to the Divas.

PZO: What keeps you grounded and optimistic?
Angel: Being broke.
Angel: The brokest Grammy winners in the world. It looks like a lot of glamour and there is. It’s a wonderful life, but it’s not as glamorous as one would think. Being broke definitely keeps you grounded.
Pili: We are actually a part of a new style of music and the fact that we’re different nationalities and we’re doing cumbia and we’re doing cha cha’s. We have different instruments. Now a new sound is fusing and we’re a part of that and that’s a cool thing to sign your name on.
Angel: We get to meet new artists and play with new artists. There’s optimism in that.
Cindy: We are very versatile. We are open to working with other artists. Creative ability, we are a very innovative group, so that’s what makes it a lot of fun.

PZO: What is the most rewarding aspect of winning a Grammy?

Pili: Getting to say it.
Cindy: You know what, making history. Many artists win Grammies, but we are the first all-female Mariachi in the world to ever be nominated and win. To know that I am going to die and go out of this world, but that’s history, that’s forever. I left my mark. How many bands in this world can say they left a mark?  A lot of bands come and go especially female bands. To say we are going to leave a mark forever, that’s priceless. Absolutely priceless, you can’t buy that.

PZO: What do the Divas want to be remembered for the most?
Cindy: Creative. Opening doors. Diversity. Taking risks without fear. Saying love me or don’t, but we are going to keep going.
Pili: and we’re going to have a good time doing it.
Angel: We are making being a Diva a proud thing to say. Because people use Diva in a negative term and we’ve turned it around and made it really positive. In our book if you are a Diva that is one of the best things you can be.

back to interviews