Anaí Adina – Espérame En El Cielo

18-year-old vocalist Anaí Adina reveals a visionary mix of tradition and originality on her debut album with Little Village Foundation, Espérame En El Cielo. The youngest of three daughters of noted mariachi musicians Leticia and Juan Morales, Anaí grew up in a deeply musical family, learning numerous instruments including violin, piano, guitar and trumpet. She found her greatest inspiration though in her singing voice, learning to sing opera and winning local competitions (in voice, violin and trumpet). Most recently, Anaí won the “Shining Star” award at the highly competitive “Battle of the Mariachis” in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Anaí’s eclectic musicial palette informs Espérame En El Cielo, which features three songs recorded with Mariachi Mestizo – a widely acclaimed youth ensemble in which she is a member of and who has performed at venerable venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. These three compositions also include impressive performances by the Latino youth symphonic orchestra Enriching Lives through Music (ELM) – a transformative full scholarship multi-year program providing music education, ensemble, and performance opportunities to children in preschool through high school. Collectively, Anaí unites over 30 musicians on “Espérame en el Cielo” (Francisco López Vidal), “Como Yo te Amé” (Armando Manzanero), and “Potpourri Armando Manzanero” (J. A. Morales).

“This extraordinary collaboration between Mariachi Mestizo and ELM started as a twinkle in the eye of Little Village founder Jim Pugh,” says Jane Kramer, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of Enriching Lives through Music. “Our weekend together felt like a reunion, though we had never met before. Students from Mariachi Mestizo have so many of the same stories as our students; most are children of immigrant families from Central America and most are growing up in challenging circumstances. But the biggest commonality is their shared passion for music. We came together as one music ensemble – traditional mariachi instruments and singers, and classical ones – and it sounded incredible.”  

Musical tradition is profound in Anaí’s family, as Juan Morales has been a member of some of the world’s most renowned mariachi groups, including Mariachi Sol de Mexico and Mariachi Los Camperos. Leticia and Juan now own and operate The Mariachi Studio in the Central Valley of California in Delano, which incorporates a mariachi education program providing youth leadership opportunities. Anaí began peer-teaching at The Mariachi Studio at the age of 13 and quickly discovered her gift for education. She now directs the intermediate ensemble of the Studio, Los Embajadores Del Valle, working to inspire her students to achieve greatness in the classroom as well as the practice room.

As an instructor and mentor to younger generations of mariachi players, Anaí inspires her students to use music as a tool to achieve their dreams. Meanwhile, she has been accepted to nine colleges across the states, including Harvard University, where she is planning to study pre-med beginning in fall 2019.

“These songs are mostly ones that I’ve enjoyed singing when I was growing up,” Anaí says of Espérame En El Cielo. “They all tell interesting stories, and it’s a collection of memories I can take with me to college. The recording is really a family album, and it’s something I’ll have with me forever. I’m leaving home to go to Harvard, and keeping all these pieces of home with me when I’m 3,000 miles away, will certainly help.”

Juan adds, “Mariachi music is primarily comprised of love songs – longing, being happy in love, or sad or angry in love. Anaí has been singing since she was a baby, and I saw it as a necessity to memorialize her voice, and to capture her singing with all these songs before leaving to college.”