Award winning performer and community leader Veronica Robles, well known by her fans as La Mera, Mera or ‘The Real One,’ has been performing since she was very young and is recognized as the most authentic representative of Mexican music and culture in the New England region.
This summer Robles, through her East Boston based Veronica Robles Cultural Center, began a new project that is breaking down cultural barriers and empowering women through music.
“This year, I made a big investment bringing five female mariachi musicians from Mexico to kick off my project ‘Veronica Robles All Women Mariachi,’” said Robles. “It is an honor to have all these amazing ladies playing with me as part of my project presenting the first ever all woman mariachi band in New England.”
It was in Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, the cradle of Mariachi music, where Robles was introduced to Mariachi music as a teen. So it was here she tapped five Mexican nationals to be part of her project.
Through a cultural grant from the City of Boston and raising money through a GoFundMe page Robles invested roughly $13,000 in legal fees, flight tickets, food, lodging and a stipend for the musicians to bring her dream of an all-female mariachi band to the region.
“The legal process took five months and the musicians arrived to Boston on July 12,” said Robles. “We started our tour delivering our message of peace on July 16, participating on TV shows in Univision, WHDH Ch. 7 and on public performances free to the community in Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.”
The five musicians, Sandy Sánchez, Nicole Mendoza, Alejandra Carballido, Abigahil Espinoza and Nicole Edgecomv will perform with Robles to spread the message of unity and love by putting a ‘mariachi spin’ on traditional songs from America, Ireland, Italy and even China.
“With this group I will present a concert that will include traditional songs of the world in the unique Mariachi music style to gather together as community and sing along,” said Robles.
With national anti-immigrant rhetoric being spewed constantly by conservatives, Robles hopes seeing an all female Mexican band performing songs that many people recognize will bring communities together through music.
“From July 16 through August we have offered free performances and delivered our message to over 2000 people,” she said. “We are proud Mexican immigrants that are giving back to our community.”
Robles has been giving back to her community since coming here from Mexico in the 1990s and later founded the Veronica Robles Cultural Center here in Eastie. Part of the cultural center are innovative and educational after-school programs were students ultimately perform in schools and community events that expose other youths and adults to new cultures and traditions.
“Culture empowers youth and makes our communities stronger has been my mantra,” she said.
In the long term, Robles hopes the all-female mariachi group will inspire more young girls to get involved in what has been historically a male-dominated musical scene.
“I hope someday I can open a mariachi music school and give youth the opportunity to learn the music and instruments within the mariachi genre like they would in other music schools,” she said.