WASHBURN UNIVERSITY -- “Mariachi Estrella,” a Via Dolorosa film, will be shown at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, March 20th, at White Concert Hall, Garvey Fine Arts Center, Washburn University campus. The screening is free and open to the public.
After the screening there will be a question and answer session with a panel of film participants and live music from an ensemble of various mariachi musicians throughout Topeka, including Mariachi Estrella original members: Isabel Gonzalez, Rachel Sangalang and Teresa Cuevas.
In the 1970s, seven women from the church choir of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Topeka, joined together to form one of the first all female mariachi bands in the country. Teresa Cuevas, Connie Alcala, Isabel Gonzalez, Rachel Galvan Sangalang, Dolores Galvan, Dolores Carmona and Linda Scurlock formed the group “Mariachi Estrella de Topeka” after integrating mariachi music into their church choir.
These pioneering women had to quickly learn and practice all of the necessary instruments of a musical genre in which sheet music was hard to come by. Their hard work and dedication soon paid off as Mariachi Estrella played venues across Kansas and turned the tables on a male dominated style of music.
In 1981, the groundbreaking band was about to perform at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel when a skywalk collapsed, killing four of the seven band members, as well as more than 100 others.
With interviews from surviving band members Cuevas and Gonzalez, as well as relatives such as Kliph Scurlock, who was the drummer for Grammy Award winning band The Flaming Lips, the documentary takes an inside look at the personal struggles and triumphs of Mariachi Estrella and the lasting impact the band has had on the lives of those its music has touched.
The film was produced by Justicia Inc., a local non-profit entity that promotes Hispanic arts and heritage, and funded from a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council’s “Kansas Tell Their Stories” program. The short documentary was produced and directed by filmmakers Peter Jasso and Marlo Angell and crewed by local production companies, Hometown Collaborations and Integrated Media Group.
Washburn multicultural affairs office is sponsoring the event. For more information, contact Dona Walker, director, multicultural affairs office, at (785) 670-1622.