Flor de Toloache isn’t your typical mariachi band.
For starters, it’s comprised of a group of talented women musicians from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy and the U.S.
Dressed in traditional black mariachi outfits, they believe in fusing mariachi and contemporary sounds.
During Flor de Toloache’s January 26 concert at the James A. Little Theater, the group performs tunes from their latest album “Las Caras Lindas,” which won the Latin Grammy in the Best Ranchero / Mariachi Album category, as well as songs from their self-titled album that received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Ranchera Album of 2015.
“We’ve felt resistance and a lack of acceptance since we started playing together,” explains co-founder and singer Mireya Ramos. “As an all-women mariachi group with diverse backgrounds that plays fusion music, we’re under the microscope. But we’ve spent years learning and playing the traditional mariachi repertoire. It’s beautiful music to play.”
Flor de Toloache, which is based in New York City, was founded by Ramos and Shae Fiol. A violinist and vocalist of Dominican and Mexican descent who was raised in Puerto Rico, Ramos was classically trained in the violin through the Suzuki method. During college, she was a member of several different orchestras.
A singer/songwriter of Cuban descent who graduated from the University of New Mexico, Fiol moved to Los Angeles after college to pursue a career in music. She produced her first demo tape in 2001 and her first demo album in New York in 2009.
Ramos and Fiol started Flor de Toloache as a trio with harp, violin and vihuela. Today, the group performs as a full mariachi ensemble that works to both preserve mariachi traditions and create a sound influenced by the musicians’ various backgrounds. They’re working on many new tunes, including one influenced by Nirvana.
Guests on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2016, Flor de Toloache also has appeared on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and BBC 2’s “Later with Jools Holland.”