Mariachi singer Angela Aguilar has signed a worldwide deal with performance-rights organization SESAC Latina. The 18-year-old singer comes from a long line of mariachi and Mexican cinema royalty – including her father, the Grammy-award-winning mariachi singer-songwriter Pepe Aguilar; the late film star and master mariachi singer Antonio Aguilar; and her grandmother, the prolific Mexican singer and actress Flor Silvestre.
Having made her singing debut in 2012 at the age of nine, the singer has only continued to gain recognition. The same year she released her debut album, “Primero Soy Mexicana” in 2018, Aguilar was nominated as best new artist at the Latin Grammys, with the set being nominated as best ranchero/mariachi album. She also notched a Grammy for best regional Mexican music album.
Aguilar says the decision to sign the worldwide deal with SESAC Latina was spearheaded by a team that she esteems to be made up of the brightest minds in the industry — made up primarily, of course, of her father and mother, Aneliz Álvarez Alcalá.
“The people that I surround myself with are completely talented in what they do and they’re ambitious and creative,” she tells Variety. They have so much experience that I lack of because I’m 18. Yes, I’ve been doing this since I was three years old but I’m still young and having mentors, like my parents and being under their record company [Machin Records] is an experience I’m grateful for.”
Not many young artists, and very few females, have managed to take the traditional sounds of the mariachi genre to the mainstream. Aguilar also plans to eventually travel overseas to Europe with the hopes of composing and singing in Italian and Portuguese. In May, Aguilar achieved her second No. 1 on Billboard’s regional Mexican airplay chart, with the single “Ahí Donde Me Ven” from her latest album, “Mexicana Enamorada.”
She is just the seventh female act in the chart’s history to have scored at least one No. 1 on the chart.
Referring to the breakthrough, Aguilar unexpectedly responds, “That’s stupid,” as the room breaks out in laughter. “Not to sound ungrateful – of course, I’m so excited! But when I found out [I was the first female to do it in 16 years], I was also a little bummed to hear it.”
Existing in the male-dominated world of mariachi, Aguilar commends other female Mexican-American singers like pop star Becky G, “as a great example of somebody that had to go through so many things to be where, I believe, for a man would take half as long.
“The experience that I have is just the four or five years of consciousness that I’ve been in this industry,” she continues, alluding to her unique entry into the industry. “My family, of course, have told me about this struggle. My grandma was one of the key players in granting equality between men and women in the Mexican industry, being both an actress and being a singer.”
Being the grandaughter of Mexican cinema icons, many have speculated when Aguilar will make the move to the big screen but Aguilar is quick to shut down rumors of potential movie deals. “You know when you put off something so much that and every time you think about it, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do this,’ but you never do it?,” she poses, adding she’ll need to take a few months of acting classes before she ever steps in front of the camera. However, that isn’t to say there haven’t been any offers to play roles that have her motivated to get to it.
“I’ve had like a lot of really interesting business proposals and I’ve had to consciously decline them because I know that if I were to act right now, I wouldn’t be able to be the actress that I want to be.”
Aguilar’s main focus, she says, is perfecting her vocal skills and expanding in sound. She intends to follow in the footsteps of Rocío Dúrcal who often performed accompanied by a Mexican rhythm section and a symphonic orchestra. She has already started to break into the world of electronic music, having recorded an unreleased song with Steve Aoki and for her latest release “Amiga Mia” – a dance cover of the Alejandro Sanz song for Pride month.
She also has plans to bend the traditional sounds of mariachi in new ways, “so we can look at the genre and say ‘look what else we can do with it.’” She points to Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston as inspiration, mentioning she’s tried to include R&B runs while recording typical mariachi songs, but “My dad sometimes goes ‘No!,’ but sometimes it works! So, so it’s just about trying, you know?”
In the span of her almost decade-long singing career, Aguilar has collected a prestigious circle of supporters including the late Vicente Fernandez (who casually gifted the young singer with a horse when he heard hers had passed away) and Mexican singer Ana Barbara – who Aguilar refers to endearingly as “my aunt.”
She also cites Keys as inspiration for her current creative venture in memoir writing. “I started writing a book, just a chapter — my mom doesn’t even know about this,” she adds, “but I read Alicia Keys’ book and I thought it was so interesting. But I want to release it when I’m 25 or sometime much later in my life.”
Aguilar is currently on her first solo tour, accompanied by her father’s team of musicians, promoting her 2021 album, “Mexicana Enamorada.” She has also been joining her father Aguilar and uncle Antonio Aguilar, along with her brother Leonardo Aguilar, on an arena concert tour with dates scheduled through fall.
The massive production combines captivating music sets with horse riding and equestrian acrobatic performances which Aguilar likened to “doing your makeup in the car. When I started singing on the horse, my vibrato would change when I galloped.”
With a worldwide deal under her belt, and as Aguilar continues her expansion in the American mainstream, she says she’s taking it one day at a time and appreciates that the shows are only “getting bigger.”