Final performance in time for finals week


The Mariachi Divas, an all-female mariachi group, will perform at Beasley Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2.

Those studying for final exams (so, just about all students on the WSU campus) will have a chance to celebrate Cinco de Mayo early with the semester’s final performance from WSU Performing Arts: a multicultural mariachi.

Finishing the Performing Arts’ season, the Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will perform in a concert Saturday. Formed in 1999, the all-female ensemble is made up of performers of many cultural backgrounds who play a variety of instruments.

WSU Performing Arts Director Gail Siegel said the schedule of performances works out on “good luck and a little magic,” bringing in performers when the opportunity arises. This was the case with Mariachi Divas, who have never been booked in Pullman before.

“I like the fact that it’s an all-female ensemble because traditionally mariachi is … a male ensemble,” Siegel said.

WSU Performing Arts hosts 11 to 12 performances every season, with half of the shows being theatrical productions and the entire season covering a broad range of genres and subjects. Some of the upcoming performances include Nelson Illusions and “The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth.”

Cindy Shea, Mariachi Divas founder, director and trumpet player, said the group’s energy while on the stage aims to entertain.

“The Divas are sure to have an audience on their feet by the end of their show,” Shea said.

While “mariachi” has no clear definition, many would likely think of a trio of Latino men in sombreros. Traditionally, mariachi is known as a form of folk music from Mexico, whose instrumentation has changed along with its definition through the years, Shea said.

Melinda Salcido, lead guitarist and lead singer for the Divas, defined “mariachi” as what comes to mind when thinking of Mexico. Mariachi is a representation of a globally-recognized musical genre.

The Mariachi Divas group plays a range of songs, mostly in Spanish, including classic favorites and originals. The majority of any mariachi music is cover tunes or traditional songs, as few groups play original songs, Salcido said.

“Our music is a variety show,” Shea said. “A ranchera at the beginning and by the end of the show dancing to cumbias.”

While traditional mariachi instruments do include guitars and trumpets, the Divas also utilize vihuela, violins, flutes and guitarron in their performances, Shea said. The number of each instrument and which are used is flexible.

“The way I feel is there shouldn’t be set rules,” Shea said. “Music is a universal language and from what I can see mariachi music is respected and loved all over the world.”

Shea said one of her difficulties is balancing family and personal time into the Divas’ performance schedule, as she is a mom of two. The Mariachi Divas have performed at the Disneyland resort for the past 14 years and toured throughout the year around the U.S. and Mexico.

Despite this, Shea said she enjoys the sisterhood in this musical family. As an American learning to be fluent in Spanish, she said she has fallen in love with the music.

“When we suit up and put our trajes on, we not only represent Mariachi Divas, we represent pride and love for what we consider the most beautiful music in the world: mariachi,” Salcido said.

Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will perform in Beasley Coliseum Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30. The concert is free for everyone to attend.