Mariachi Alejandra Tejada keeps mariachi tradition alive

Master’s degree recipient Alejandra Tejeda sang the national anthem at the 107th commencement for Fresno State at the Save Mart Center on May 19.
Master’s degree recipient Alejandra Tejeda sang the national anthem at the 107th commencement for Fresno State at the Save Mart Center on May 19. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Alejandra Tejada has high hopes of keeping the reverence and style of México’s mariachi vibrant with her own show.

Tejada, who recently earned her masters from Fresno State, performed her routine before thousands of spectators at the Save Mart Center for the Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration on May 19.

She fell in love with music as a young girl watching her father, Armando Tejada, a Colima, México native, play the guitar in the family home.

Prior to her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music - Alejandra, a fanatic of mariachi great Alejandro Fernandez, the son of famed mariachi icon Vicente Fernandez – Alejandra had already played such stages like that of the Save Mart Center.

With her education and having been in the industry, Alejandra, 27, desires to continue the aged-old ways of the mariachi.

Alejandra Tejeda gets hooded at the 42nd annual Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration May 19 at the Save Mart Center. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

She hopes to inspire young musicians who have the same dream of performing.

“The earliest memory I have is that I would see my dad playing the guitar. I was like four or five years old. He would listen to Queen of the Aria,” said Alejandra, who graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music.

“He taught me what he knew, the basics of singing from the diaphragm. My dad plays guitar and sings, he’s actually where I have gotten my love for mariachi, he loves mariachi.”

She inspired children with the Fresno State Opera Theatre production of ‘Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena,’ an opera for underprivileged kids.

“It was a child’s opera, ‘Lucinda and the Poinsettias.’ We went around Fresno County and we performed for kids in elementary schools. Our first performance was in Selma. The kids there were kindergartners; they ate it up. The children’s opera requires the kids to get involved,” said Alejandra, a 2009 graduate of Monache High School in Porterville.

The poignant story is about a mother and daughter creating a blanket for the nativity on Christmas Eve. Lucinda winds up alone because her mother is too sick to finish the blanket. Lucinda travels to the nativity scene at the church and picks weeds along her walk, which bloom into poinsettias.

Composer Evan Mack wrote the opera with Alejandra’s talent in mind. Eventually the Houston and San Francisco operas each performed it.

This summer includes a collaboration with Jorge Aguilera on a CD. Their first song is a rendition of ‘Paloma Negra’ (Black Dove), which is already released on YouTube and Soundcloud.

Her recent performance at the Latino graduation wasn’t her first at the Save Mart Center.

“I was in my bachelor’s cap and traje (mariachi outfit), so funny how things progress when you get older. This second time I really felt like Selena (performer Selena Quintanilla), but when I first started, nobody knew who I was,” she said.

After her name was announced to more than 12,000 spectators at the Latino graduation on May 19, fans applauded like they knew her.

“It would be such an honor to play in México. People say I bring the spirit of México with me,” she said, “I feel so honored since I was born and raised here in America. I feel like heart calls out for México.”