February 24, 2023
Yolanda Broyles-González publishes book on transnational Mexican music movement
Yolanda Broyles-González, head of the social transformation studies department and university distinguished professor of American ethnic studies, has published "Mario Barradas and Son Jarocho. The Journey of a Mexican Regional Music." The book is published by University of Texas Press.
Co-authors include Francisco González and Rafael Figueroa Hernández. Son Jarocho is a musical genre that originates in the Mexican Gulf Coast region of Veracruz, and migrates northward throughout the United States beginning in the mid-20th century and into present times. The volume illustrates how music knows no borders and culturally unites populations transnationally. Throughout the Americas, Son Jarocho unites communities through music and dance forms that date back centuries. Son Jarocho dances — called fandango — unify entire communities in all-night celebrations. In modern times, Son Jarocho song lyrics are performed in multiple Indigenous communities and languages, such as Nahuatl, Zoque-popoluca and Mixe, as well as in mixed languages such as indigenized Spanish.
Broyles-González writes about the Indigenous expressivity and history of this musical genre.
"Part of what I was dealing with is the Eurocentrism of so much of the research on Son Jarocho," said Broyles-González.
The volume contains an extensive oral history with Mexican Son Jarocho icon Mario Barradas. That oral history was gathered by Chicano musician and Los Lobos founder, Francisco González, then translated into English by Broyles-González. Rafael Figueroa Hernández contributed a filmography of Mario Barradas who performed in dozens of Mexican films. Figueroa Hernández is diriector of the Centro de Estudios de la Cultura y Comunicación de la Universidad Veracruzana.
"Working on a book with a colleague across national borders was both challenging and enriching," said Broyles-González. "We brought many very different yet complementary perspectives into the book. There were also intense weeks when we met and worked together, both in Mexico and the United States."
The book has already received positive early reviews from distinguished music scholars.
"It is such an engaging and revelatory look at the music’s social and musical history that I couldn’t stop reading," said Daniel Sheehy, director emeritus of the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Josh Kun, chair of Cross-Cultural Communication in the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California, said, "With the vital oral history of legendary harpist Mario Barradas at its center, it tracks tradition as much as change, from Indigenous roots to big-screen cinema, from rural Veracruz and Oaxaca to the streets of Mexico City and East Los Angeles."
The book was launched both at the University of Texas El Paso and at the Los Angeles Fandango. It is being translated into Spanish and is due to become a transnational publication of the Universidad Veracruzana Press.