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It WAS a man's world: Meet the Mariachi Bonitas

An all-female Mariachi group is making changes in a typically male-dominated music genre.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Historically, mariachi bands have featured women as singers, but the genre continues to be male-dominated. An all-female Sacramento band is trying to break down stereotypes and show mariachi listeners that women can play too. That band is Mariachi Bonitas, Sacramento’s all-female mariachi band founded by singer-songwriter Dinorah Klingler. 

“In Mexico, we have this culture that it is the man who serenades the woman, it is the man who is the provider, but times are changing,” said Klingler.

Klingler’s life is devoted to music. She can sing in five languages and has performed in just about every musical genre from flamenco to jazz and funk to cumbia. 

“My start was in pop and rock 'n' roll when I was around 14,” said Klingler. 

It wasn’t until she left her home in Mexico that the sounds of the guitarrón, the violin and the trumpet led her down the path of female mariachi. 

“I formed an all-female mariachi band in 1997 in Los Angeles,” said Klingler.

Gaining respect in a centuries-old male-dominated music genre wasn’t easy, especially when she tried to incorporate herself into other male bands. 

“I went to try to put myself in a mariachi band and the owner says, 'I don’t hire women,'” said Klingler. 

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As a musician, Klingler would form or join many bands, and she moved across the country over the years. That experience taught her that to make it in mariachi she had to be both an entertainer and a businesswoman. In 2014, she started the Mariachi Festival in Sacramento. 

“This year is nine years that I’ve been producing the show. I bring Mariachi from all over the world to perform. At that time, I didn’t have a band. I was just producing but then the pandemic hit,” said Klingler.

When the pandemic halted musical events, Klingler went back to her roots. She formed a mariachi band with close friends and played for her neighborhood. That band became Mariachi Bonitas, and they quickly made a name for themselves.

In 2021, the band was invited to the Kelly Clarkson Show, which elevated their musical careers and inspired them to move forward. 

“She told me, 'I will see you at the Grammys,' and that was what inspired me to record our first album,” said Klingler.

For over a century, men dominated mariachi. Klingler said she was never out to change the way mariachi was played or performed. All she wanted was a spot on the stage for her and her Bonitas. 

“Grammy or not, we are going to keep doing it because it is important to share what we have, and we hope Mariachi Bonitas will be here for a long time,” she said.

A full list of performances and information on their new album, visit their website for more. 

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