With the release of her debut album Valerosa, Lesly Reynaga combines the best of the musical worlds in which she grew up. Most of the album’s 12 songs are sung in Spanish, but there is still a hint of the American pop music that characterized their early years as a soundtrack.
Reynaga was born in Monterrey, Mexico and moved to Texas at the age of 16. She left her mother and siblings behind to join her father in McAllen. There, she began to spread her musical wings by taking an optional guitar course and embarking on a path that eventually led her to the music that shaped her childhood.
Mariachi music had been in her world, but it wasn’t the rhythm that drove her. This energy was reserved for the pop styles that dominated the last decade of the 20th century.
“I was young and grew up in the 90s. It’s obvious that people are drawn to trendy things,” he tells KUTX. “I had an older sister who listened to a lot of American pop music. Christina Aguilera was literally my biggest idol when I was little.”
His musical growth began when his guitar teacher asked him a simple question: Can you sing? He happened to be the leader of the school’s mariachi group, and that’s when Reynaga began exploring the ins and outs of the musical style.
Reynaga cites Linda Ronstadt as one of his biggest influences, particularly her 1987 album Canciones de Mi Padre. The album, full of mariachi classics, influenced many people (including my mother) who grew up listening to Ronstadt’s English songs.
After two EPs – Fool’s Paradise and Dual Passport – and an unforgettable mariachi performance at last year’s Austin City Limits music festival, it’s now Reynaga releasing his own take on the genre.
On their album Valerosa you’ll find songs like “Si Me Voy” and “Huapango” that showcase the classic mariachi sounds heard throughout South and Central Texas, while “Master of Fate” flexes the pop muscles, which they were taught in him long ago.