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Mariachi performer sets her sights on pro gigs

April 14, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — When Blanca Buelna listens to Mariachi Reyna perform at the upcoming Imperial Valley Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras here, she'll be dreaming of her future.

The 17-year-old Calexico High School senior hopes to join the all-woman mariachi group and become a professional mariachi like the trail-blazing East Los Angeles women who founded Mariachi Reyna years ago. To make that happen, she knows she'll have to improve her violin technique and her vocal stylings.

Right now — "I'm pretty close," she said with a smile.

For the organizers of Santa Monica Community College's 13th annual Latina Youth Conference, "pretty close" was more than good enough.

Blanca recently returned to Calexico after performing before an audience of more than 500 young Latinas there.

At first she was nervous that the young girls might not appreciate her traditional music but after she started singing, "They really responded to me."

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Wearing a white traje de charra, Blanca sang mariachi classics, "El Herradero," "Si Nos Dejan" and "Cancion Mexicana."

She was the only person from Calexico who attended the conference and the only teen in a program featuring female inspirational speakers and adult performers.

For Blanca, "It was a great honor, the experience of a lifetime," she said.

She said singing in front of a large audience really built her character and made her realize she can do a lot.

"I have no limits," she said.

In addition to the empowerment she experienced after her performance, she said the keynote speaker at the conference, Yasmine Davidds-Garrido, gave a speech that really sunk in.

Davidds-Garrido, author of "Empowering Latinas," showed Blanca the strength of "Latina power — never giving up," she said.

After she graduates from Calexico High, Blanca plans to attend Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

The girl who played "Rizzo" in the Calexico High production of "Grease" will major in drama and music at Southwestern and try to take enough units to get a minor in psychology.

After a couple years at Southwestern, she plans to transfer to the University of California, Los Angeles.

"They have a good mariachi program," she said.

Once in Los Angeles, she hopes to start her mariachi career. She knows it is going to be tough to make her dreams come true but she believes that they will.

"I know they will," she said.

On May 16, Calexico residents can hear Blanca sing at the Calexico's 94th anniversary celebration for Calexico's pioneers at the Hotel de Anza.

The moment will be especially significant for Blanca because she will be singing a song her grandmother, Blanca Diaz, composed for Calexico's 90th anniversary. It's called "Calexico Song."

Blanca Buelna said the song is a tribute to the strength and beauty of Calexicans.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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