By Alex MacLeod
Stephanie Urbina Jones and her history-making Honky Tonk Mariachi will headline Patronato Pro Niños’ annual fund-raising gala at the Hacienda Los Picachos the evening of July 4.
With a style described as “country music with chili peppers,” Urbina Jones was the first to bring mariachi music to the stage of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in its 93-year history.
It will be something of a homecoming for Urbina Jones who is donating her performance in support of Patronato Pro Niños’ mission of providing medical, dental, psychological, and nutritional care to children and teenagers in the San Miguel area whose families can’t afford it.
In Nashville forging her music career, she was summoned to San Antonio as her grandmother was dying. In Spanglish, her grandmother told her: “You were born to be a manaje (messenger); la puente (a bridge), sharing the beauty of our culture with the world through your music.”
Trouble was, Urbina Jones had been born in Austin and raised in Fredericksburg, didn’t speak Spanish, and knew little about her Mexican culture. So she came to San Miguel, boarded with a Mexican family, and studied Spanish. She says she arrived an “entitled American;” she left enraptured by the culture—and committed to telling its story in song.
She took her great-grandfather’s name as her middle name, remortgaged her house, and made what she describes as her first “real” album in 2002 drawing on her Mexican heritage. Since then, she’s performed in 14 countries including some of the world’s most prestigious festivals (Switzerland’s Montreal Jazz Fest and Japan’s Country Gold). She’s sung a duet with Willie Nelson at a Fourth of July Picnic, and her version of “Shaking Things Up” made her the first independent female artist to hit Number One on the Texas Music Chart.
Her music is country with a decided mariachi twist and the “intoxicating, joy-filled sounds of Mexico.” Her most profound early childhood memories, she says, included listening to mariachis at Sunday barbecues hosted by her grandmother, a notary public who often aided Mexican immigrants. “I feel 5 years old when I hear mariachis,” Urbina Jones says. “They’re a direct source of joy for me.”
Her latest album, “Tularosa,” honors her personal icons (Loretta, Dolly, Patsy, Willie, Merle, Kris, Johnny and June—no last names needed) and the Mexican heritage that feeds her sound. Several of its songs are in both Spanish and English. She was here recently to film the Spanish version of her “Rhinestone Cowgirl” at the Rancho del Sol Dorado.
The theme of this year’s Patronato Pro Ninos Fourth of July 2023 Fundraising Fiesta is “Denims and Diamonds.” Guests are encouraged to break out their best blue jeans and bling and come for an evening of great food (hors d’ouvres and dinner of BBQ ribs, pulled pork sliders, grilled chicken, veggies, truffle mac ’n cheese, “street” corn, and sweet treats), a “Buy-It-Now Boutique.” raffle, auction, and great music and dancing.
Tickets are available at patronatoproninos.org/4july-tickets and for more information and tickets by calling 212 810 2187.