Mariachi band born on Kennesaw State University campus

Some of the greatest bands in history formed on college campuses, spanning musical genres from rock to hip-hop to country.

And thanks to some extremely talented musicians at one local university, we can add another genre to the list: Mariachi.

Mariachi Búhos de Oro (which translates to Golden Owls, a nod to the band members' alma mater) is made up of metro Atlanta natives who met as music students at Kennesaw State University.

"For Day of the Dead at Kennesaw State University, they needed a mariachi band to play, but we didn't have the funds that year to hire one," says Alejandro Sifuentes, who plays vihuela and sings for the group. "So, I looked around at my friends...I was like, 'Let's go ahead and form a mariachi band. I have a guitar, we have some music online, let's do it!’"

Since 2015, the group has grown to about seven active members and has played gigs throughout the Southeast, serving as a soundtrack to life’s most memorable moments.

"We play anything from very, very early morning serenades, to weddings, to birthday parties, quinceañeras ... I mean, you name it," says violinist Jonathan Urizar.  

Adds Carolina Sifuentes, who plays the guitarrón, "I love seeing people cry when we surprise them with music; especially, like, Mother's Day.  Their sons or daughters will hire us, and then we'll wake her up, and she'll just start crying."

Band members say that emotional response is the power of this cherished Mexican musical genre, a result of its unique instruments and bold, romantic vocal style.

And for the KSU grads, the music provides something of continued education.  

"This was a hundred percent new to me, and it was very much different from anything I had ever done," says Brandon Austin, who plays trumpet.

For more information on Mariachi Búhos de Oro, click over to the band’s website here or Facebook page here.  And, to hear them live, they’ll be spending their Cinco de Mayo evening playing at Chef Smokey’s ATL in Austell (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.).

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