Las Vegas High School Mariachi Band Calls Inaugural Performance a ‘Milestone’

It’s an important day in the United States, with the President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being sworn in to the White House on Wednesday (Jan. 20). In true presidential inauguration fashion, a wave of artists will partake in various events, including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks performing at the official swearing-in ceremony.

Joining the slew of events is Mariachi Joya de Las Vegas High School, which will form part of the virtual “Parade Across America” event Wednesday afternoon. The mariachi, led by musical director Stephen Blanco, is composed of about 20 students between the ages of 14 and 18.

“We had already performed for President-elect Joe Biden at one of his campaign rallies back in January of last year,” Magelyn Cabral, harpist and vocal soloist, tells Billboard of the opportunity. “Mr. Blanco stayed in contact with his team and they reached out again to form part of the inauguration.”

Because of the current health crisis, the mariachi band pre-recorded their performance, which will be livestreamed during the inaugural event taking place at 3:15 p.m. ET via the official Biden Inaugural website. (Watch here.)

“It will be a medley of our original theme song called ‘Tema’ and our version of Mariachi Sol de Mexico’s ‘Tierra de Mariachi.’ The song talks about how proud we are of being mariachi and Mexican, since the majority of us are from Mexico or of Mexican descent,” Cabral, who is half Mexican and half Dominican, states.

In addition to Mariachi Joya, Latin artists will shine throughout many events Wednesday, including Ozuna and Luis Fonsi, who have been confirmed for the Celebrating America primetime special from 8:30 to 10 p.m. ET on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC.

“It’s a milestone for Latinos. This means that Biden wants to represent us,” the 17-year-old high school senior adds. “These last four years, speaking for myself, I felt like the Latino community was very passed on and looked down upon. When we got the invitation, it felt very accepting. Our music is a big part of our culture and this definitely shows more than just a performance. It shows that we belong with everyone else.”

Cabral is hopeful about the new U.S. president and vice president.

“There’s not one single thing that needs its undivided attention,” she says. “I’m sure it’s going to be hard for President Biden and Vice President Harris but the main thing I feel that they should focus on is keeping peace and unity, not only to make the Latino community rise but everyone.”

As for meeting Biden in person during his campaign stop in Las Vegas, Cabral says it was very exciting.

“It didn’t feel real! At that time, we didn’t know what the outcome of the election was going to be but Mr. Blanco reminded us that if he won the election, we would have officially met the President of the United States,” she recalls. “It was cool. He was such a sweet guy and very inspirational. He let us know that the sky is not the limit, the only thing limiting us is ourselves. He definitely implanted a seed in my head that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.”

According to the official Biden Inaugural website, Mariachi Joya will join “a diverse and dynamic lineup that includes communities in all 56 states and territories, celebrating America’s heroes, and highlighting the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country.” The event can also be watched on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch.