Mariachi Sirenas: Chicago's all-female band keeping Mexican tradition alive

In Chicago, there is a group working to keep a Mexican tradition alive through the art of mariachi music.

The group is called Mariachis Sirenas, and they are playing their way into the hearts of audiences throughout the city.

You might see any number of mariachi bands in Chicago, but this is no ordinary group.

Mariachi Sirenas are the city's first all-female group, and they know how to make you feel good inside.

"I would say well, it's just like loud. I mentioned — [it] is very emotional. I feel like you just really feel it in your soul, and it goes to your guts, and it's kind of like all these emotions that pile up," said Xitlali Torres.

Both Torres and her cousin Laura Velsquez are members of Mariachi Sirenas and nothing could make them prouder than doing what they love: playing their hearts out and putting smiles on the faces of those who watch them perform.

Velsquez is a violinist and Torres is a trumpeter.

Both instruments play a key role in what they describe as a form of Mexican country music, where the strings and brass come together in perfect harmony.

If Mariachi Sirenas looks familiar to you, that is probably because you may have seen them perform at the Fiesta del Sol, the Taste of Chicago and most recently, the Selena Festival at Pritzker Pavilion. 

Torres has been playing trumpet since her days in high school, and it was a teacher who encouraged her to join.

Velsquez has been playing violin since she was 10, and she says she did it with no formal training.

"I've had to learn to speak English for my parents and to be able to translate for them and everything. I started to slowly lose the Spanish but now with the mariachi, I'm able to interact a lot more with Spanish-speaking people, especially with the songs and the emotions that come with it. I'm able to grasp that back," said Velsquez.

Needless to say, their families are proud of them for sharing their love of traditional Mexican music and for keeping their cultural roots planted deep in the heart of Chicago's vibrant and colorful Latino community.