Mexico celebrated the bicentennial of its independence last Sept.16, and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution is approaching next month. So how do you get your grito on? By checking out the Anaheim Mariachi Festival this Saturday!
The fourth annual event features numerous performers such as Anaheim's own Mariachi Anacatlan, the Grammy award-winning Mariachi Divas, and 13-year-old teen prodigy Genesis Codina.
Codina started singing mariachi music at the age of seven. Six years later, the talent born and raised in Pomona has added bilingual pop songs to her musical catalogue as well as a passion for acting that has already netted her an appearance in the film Street Kings with Keanu Reeves.
Cindy Shea, founder of the headlining Divas, hopes to produce Codina's first album when the time comes. Speaking highly of the teenage ranchera singer, Shea says, "I see an Oscar or and Grammy in the future for this rising star. She is our mini-Diva and I am honored to be one of her mentors and her friend."
OC Weekly caught up with Genesis Codina before she takes the stage this Saturday at the Anaheim Mariachi Festival.
OC Weekly: Genesis is a very unique name. Did your parents ever tell you the back story as to why they chose that as your first name?
Genesis Codina: Yes, my parents actually did tell me the meaning of my name and why they named me Genesis. They said that they wanted to give me a unique name to make me stand out and so I wouldn't have a common name. They also told me that genesis means the beginning and it's the first book of the bible. I was their first child and I was their beginning as parents.
You started singing at the very young age of seven. Where did the musical inspiration initially come from?
When I was very little, practically a baby, I used to watch Barney and a lot of the Disney movies with songs and I would just sing them and I loved singing those songs. When I was about 6, I told my mom I wanted to learn to sing and she found a coach, Daniel Herrera, offering lessons in mariachi music at the school where I used to dance folklorico at the time. I fell in love with singing rancheras and that's how I started everything. But it was with all the Disney and Barney shows that I became interested in singing.
Last weekend you performed in Mexico for the first time as part of the "1st Annual Rosarito Beach International Mariachi Festival." What was the experience like traveling with your music?
The experience of traveling to Mexico with my music was amazing and super fun! It was my first time performing out of the country and I felt very welcome. I was very excited to sing with Mariachi Divas at such an important event. I enjoyed being over there because everyone was really nice and new people saw me performing. I also made cool new friends from different parts of the US and Mexico.
The Mariachi Divas, who were also at that festival, are headlining Saturday's event in Anaheim. As friends of yours, how did you come to meet and work with the Divas?
The very first contact with Cindy Shea was made by my mom to get contact information for one of her mariachi members Melinda Salcido, who was also a vocal coach. I began and continued lessons with Melinda but never really met the Divas personally as a group. Eventually like a year later when I was 10 years old I finally met Cindy Shea and the Divas at the Orange show in San Bernardino. They were in concert and my mom took me to their concert there because I wanted to meet them. When their concert was done, me and my mom introduced ourselves to Cindy Shea and told her I was a singer and Melinda's vocal student. She was very nice but we didn't have the chance to talk much.
My mom continued communicating with her and a few months later Cindy invited me to sing at a wedding with the Divas for the first time and since then she continued inviting me to more places. Cindy has seen me grow artistically and has supported me with my singing since that first invitation. I am now proud to say that we have become really good and close friends and I'm 100% thankful for all she's done to help me out. Cindy Shea and Mariachi Divas musical director, Beto Jimenez are not only my friends but also my mentors in mariachi music.
At 13, you've got quite a lot of living and singing to do. What are your musical aspirations and who do you look up to?
My main aspiration is to become a recognized recording artist and actress. I want to be a versatile bilingual recording artist focusing on both ranchera music and pop music. I don't believe in being limited to one specific music genre or one language because I know I have the ability and love for music to do more. If possible, I also want to continue acting in films and television, since that is something else I truly enjoy doing. However, my main dream is in music. I have had many musical inspirations over time but the main one as a ranchera singer is definitely Rocio Durcal. I think she was one of the best singers of all times. I just loved how she interpreted her songs and how she managed the stage. She was truly amazing. Another musical inspiration is Lucero because she started acting and singing when she was a little girl and has been able to maintain herself strong in the industry. She has also been an example of how it is possible to balance being a recognized versatile singer and actress. That makes me believe that I can make my dreams come alive.
The one person I look up to is my mom because she does so much to support me and she always does the best to help me with my singing career. She takes me to all my lessons and performances and she believes in me more than anyone. She also does a lot for the family and she is a really strong person. My mom is my hero.
Genesis Codina performs at the Anaheim Mariachi Festival, Anaheim Heritage Forum, 201 East Broadway, Anaheim, 92805. (714) 778-4356; www.anaheimmariachifestival.com. Sat., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. All Ages. $20-$60. For more information on Genesis Codina, visit www.genesiscodina.com.
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He's a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.