UH's Mariachi Pumas celebrate diversity and culture through music

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Monday, November 13, 2023
UH's Mariachi Pumas celebrate diversity and culture through music
The University of Houston's Mariachi Pumas are made up of students from all different cultural backgrounds and majors - but they all share a love of music.

HOUSTON, Texas -- For five years, the University of Houston's Mariachi Pumas have been leaving a lasting imprint on the Bayou City. Students and faculty from different backgrounds have grown to love mariachi music, thanks to the band's director, Jose Longoria, who is a third-generation mariachi himself.

Longoria started his career in education as a sixth grade math teacher and started the first mariachi programs in HISD. Now, he's teaching music at the collegiate level at University of Houston, directing the Mariachi Pumas.

"I love mariachi because you can express what you're feeling," said Longoria. "It could be excitement, it could be happiness, it could be sadness, romanticism. Through mariachi, were able to perform different types of music as well."

Many of the Pumas come from different cultural backgrounds, but they're bonded together by one thing.

"Music is universal," said Longoria. "Its a language. You don't have to speak it. You show it."

Some students are non-music majors and some don't speak Spanish, but fell in love with mariachi music. Even some faculty members proudly wear the uniform. Melody Li joined the group after catching a performance of the Mariachi Pumas last year.

"I teach in Chinese studies," said assistant professor Melody Li. "I was so amazed. It was so new to me. I was never exposed to mariachi music. I really appreciate what they do and they really teach us how culture can impact our lives in different ways."

Longoria says he hopes to leave a lasting legacy with the Mariachi Pumas so future generations can enjoy and love mariachi music and its history.

To learn more about the Mariachi Pumas, visit them online.