Not many local mariachis can say they have played with Cristian Castro, Pedro Fernandez and even legendary Paquita la del Barrio. Mariachi 7 Leguas has shared the scenario with them and many more artists throughout the 15 years since the day the band was founded.

With songs such as “El Mariachi Loco,” “Como Quien Pierde Una Estrella” and “El Aventurero,” the band has played in places such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and Mexico City. One might recognize them for being the Mariachi on the 2019 Charro Days Fiesta official poster.

“There is a lot of talent here in the Valley and basically our roots here — for the most of us — are from Mexico because we are Mexican and what a beautiful way to represent our culture than through this type of music, which is mariachi,” Emilio Santos, lead singer and band founder, said. “There’s the folklore dance, the mariachi and it is super important to maintain that culture and not only play the songs but also being able to understand it and represent it in the way it should be and wear the charro costume.”

The mariachi group was selected the best of the world in a 2010 global contest by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Instituto Mexicano Del Exterior.

“Obviously there are other groups who play and get together but they don’t respect the image of what the charro costume really is along with the mariachi music,” Santos said. “Right now we are 12 members of the group and we are all a big family, we are like brothers. Each of us has our own family but we spend a lot of time together with the rehearsals, the tours or special events that we do here.”

Mariachi 7 Leguas will turn 15 on Oct. 1 and they are planning on doing a gala concert at the Performing Arts Center in McAllen along with a symphony and other bands.

Even though members of the band live in different cities throughout the Rio Grande Valley, they find the time to share their passion for mariachi and rehearse at least once a week.

“Some of us live in Brownsville, others live in McAllen, others live in Roma and others in Villa Aleman, so, since we chose the best musicians, we try to work things out and try to rehearse every Wednesday and even on Saturdays before we do a presentation,” Santos said.

Santos founded the mariachi band after came back to the Valley from San Antonio, where he was part of a mariachi band, too.

“After graduating from college I moved to San Antonio to look for a job, and luckily I was hired by ‘Mariachi Los Caporales,’” Santos said. “After that, I couldn’t find the job that I wanted so I came back to McAllen and started applying to jobs and at the same time I started to talk with some friends from school about starting a mariachi group and that’s how ‘7 Leguas’ was formed 15 years ago.”

Even though mariachi members have to find time between their full-time job and family obligations to rehearse and tour, Santos said he hopes the tradition continues.

“I really hope the mariachi tradition continues and to leave a legacy to those who will come after me. I know that in the future, some day, I will have to retire but I hope this legacy continues and this mariachi band continues with the same style we’ve had for the past 15 years.”