She launched the world’s first Annual International Mariachi Women’s Festival at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse in Los Angeles in March of 2014 and in May of 2019, she successfully expanded the festival to Tucson, Arizona. With the help of the Mariachi Women's Foundation, the festival was able to "pivot" and go virtual with the launch of the 7th Annual International Mariachi Women's Festival on October 24, 2020. For over 25 years, Dr. Perez has researched the history of women in mariachi music. In 2013, she curated the first mariachi women’s history exhibit at the Women’s Museum of California in San Diego. The exhibit highlights the history of mariachi women instrumentalist over the last 100 years. She then created a traveling exhibit, the “Trailblazing Women of Mariachi” which was displayed in association with the 2018 production of the play “American Mariachi” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. In March of 2019, it was the inaugural exhibit for the opening of Arizona’s first Mexican-American Heritage and History Museum in Tucson, Arizona that is located at the historic Sosa-Carrillo House. Dr. Perez has produced, directed and given festivals, concerts and research presentations in public and private venues and universities in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Kazakhstan, Ireland and Thailand. Other arts and culture projects include her work with the San Diego Symphony as Artistic Projects Manager from 2012-2014 where collaborated with film and television composer Bill Conti. Conti is best known for composing the theme from the movie “Rocky. ” Dr. Perez facilitated the coproduction of an original orchestral composition by Bill Conti with San Diego’s diverse cultural and traditional artists and the Symphony. As a child, she worked for John Sutherland productions as a voice and music recording artist for the nation’s first bilingual education animated films used in classrooms throughout California and the Southwest. She also engaged in the 1970s and 1980s with respected organizations at the beginning of their rise in the arts and culture field such as Plaza de La Raza and Self-Help Graphics. Dr. Perez holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Doctorate in Education from UCLA. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology.
Dr. Leonor Xóchitl Pérez
Founder and Board President of the Mariachi Women's Foundation Dr. Leonor Xóchitl Pérez began performing mariachi music in 1973 at Griffith Junior High School which is located in East Los Angeles. This was the first youth mariachi group in California and among the first in the United States. Dr. Perez went on to perform with mariachi groups in Los Angeles, Washington DC and San Diego. Performance highlights include playing at two Presidential inaugural balls (one at 19 years old) and at two MARIACHI USA Festivals at the Hollywood Bowl. She was also a founding member of Mariachi Mujer 2000. Dr. Perez documented her experiences as a mariachi musician in the widely read narrative, “Trangressing the Taboo: A Chicana’s Voice in the Mariachi World” which was published in the book, Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change.
The Mariachi Women’s Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to support diversity, equity, inclusion and access in educational and arts programs and services. It recognizes and empowers mariachi women and girls throughout the world through education, performance and training opportunities; research, preservation and dissemination of mariachi women’s history; and by providing college scholarships.
We accomplish our mission through:
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