Los Cenzontles “both honors and upends traditional Mexican music, tapping deep roots as it flowers into something completely new, and distinctly American.” – The New York Times
Los Cenzontles (Nahuatl for “The Mockingbirds”) dig deep into Latino traditions to promote dignity, pride and cultural understanding. The group has pioneered revivals of Mexican roots music in California bringing traditions to new generations. The Mockingbirds now create a powerful new hybrid sound – creating a fresh Chicano voice for a new generation.
Fronting the group is the dynamic vocal dueto of Fabiola Trujillo and Lucina Rodriguez. The Mockingbirds effortlessly mix electric bass and drums with traditional Mexican instruments – jarana, vihuela, requinto, pandero and quijada (jawbone) – creating a powerful contemporary sound infused with the gutsy soul of Mexico’s rural roots music.
The group’s core members also operate Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo, California. The Center has been training area youth in traditional Mexican music, dance, and crafts since 1994.
“Los Cenzontles’ gutsy rhythms and delightful voices reinvigorated my love of Mexican music.” — Linda Ronstadt
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Eugene was born in Los Angeles and moved to Northern California in 1980. He attended UC Santa Cruz and the SF Conservatory of Music.
In 1989, Eugene started what was to become the Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center because he wasn’t finding musicians to play the kind of music he wanted to play. So, he set out to train young musicians, and create a family like environment to where area youth could explore music.
Eugene enjoys finding new, direct ways to feel traditional music and create bridges to other cultural music, and is excited that Los Cenzontles continues to evolve, both as a band and an arts center serving it’s home community.
In 1994, Eugene was nominated for a Grammy Award for his production of Papa’s Dream with Los Lobos and Lalo Guerrero.
Born in San Francisco, California, raised in Richmond, Emiliano Rodriguez has been a student at Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo for over nine years, but has been engrossed in music all his life. Starting with simple arts at around age five, and then learning his first instrument, piano, at seven, the art of playing an instrument started early, and today he plays much more than piano, including electric bass, guitar, jarana and leon. Influenced by many artists, but an especially devoted Interpol fan and, on the other side of the musical spectrum, a Chopin and Satie aficionado, sweet, dark, and melancholy melodies and odd, alternating rhythms are what attracts him, although the joyous songs of all traditional Mexican music seem more at home to him to play than most styles.
As a small child on balmy summer nights of her Mexican pueblo of Jerez, Zacatecas Fabiola loved to sing with her grandparents.
Fabiola moved to the U.S. at 7 where she learned to adjust to the inner-city streets of West Oakland and San Pablo – a world away from her Mexican pueblo.
At 15 she joined Los Cenzontles where she blossomed into a strong and charismatic singer, drawing inspiration from her musical idols such as Mexican ranchera singer Lola Beltran and country singer Patsy Cline.
Lucina Rodriguez was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She came to California at the age of 11. She joined Los Cenzontles at the age of 15.
She danced at social events and competed in several quebradita contests in the late 90’s. She learned the traditional folk style dances of Veracruz, Michoacan and Jalisco from folk master artists like Julian Gonzales and Atilano Lopez. She started playing guitar and jarana in her late teenage years because she wanted to write her own music. What she loves best about playing with Los Cenzontles is that the band plays so many different styles of music.
Lucina also works for the Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center organization as a business manager in the morning and as a dance teacher in the afternoons.