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The City Journals

Kaylee Bucio: National Mariachi Vocal Grand Champ at 8 years young

Feb 17, 2020 03:09PM ● By Jordan Hafford

Grand Champion vocalist Kaylee Bucio at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. (Photos courtesy Martha Chavez)

By Jordan Hafford | [email protected]

At the tender young age of 8, Riverside Elementary student Kaylee Bucio has been named National Grand Champion Vocal Winner at the 25th Annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, the most competitive mariachi vocal competition in the United States. 

“I have been teaching Kaylee since she was 4 years old,” said Kaylee’s vocal coach, Martha Chavez. “I don’t normally take tiny tots like Kaylee was when she started; however, there was something about her that caught my attention: her natural ability to sing, personality and dedication.”

Chavez is herself a seasoned vocalist with years of classical training and a powerful voice. She carries a lifelong passion for mariachi music, partly due to her parents, who were both singers in Mexico and performed live on radio shows. 

Chavez’s skill and extensive knowledge of music these days, however, is mainly focused on the success of her students. 

“I love teaching young people and adults,” she said. “I take a genuine interest in the development of their talents.” 

Kaylee is passionate about her vocal lessons, and although she has a very strong support system, it seems to be Kaylee herself that is pushing to achieve her highest potential. She attends vocal lessons with Chavez regularly along with piano lessons. 

Although she has only been around eight years, Kaylee is very familiar with the spotlight. She is a previous participant in Access Broadway in Vegas, as well as a performer at the New York City Play Station Theatre on Broadway as a reward for winning at the regional level. 

Kaylee also recently performed in her hometown of Salt Lake City at the Tabernacle on Temple Square for New Year’s Eve 2019. 

Kaylee has an impressive ability to memorize songs quickly and boasts over 60 songs in her current repertoire. 

At the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, Kaylee competed against 42 vocalists that ranged in age from elementary to college from across the country and was crowned champion through her performance of the vocally challenging classic “Granada.” 

According to its website, mariachimusic.com, Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza was founded in San Antonio, Texas, in 1995 “with the mission of promoting and presenting world-class mariachi artists and preserving the cultural traditions of Hispanic heritage.”

While in San Antonio for the competition, Kaylee also sang at the famous River Walk alongside hundreds of mariachi groups from all over the nation. 

“While we were there, I was able to see the richness of culture and how mariachi music is implemented into the school curriculum programs,” Chavez said. “I wish that Utah could do the same for our young people, especially in heavily Hispanic populated areas.”

Chavez, along with her supportive parents and family, are convinced that Kaylee truly enjoys what she does and loves sharing it with the world. 

“She sets an example to other children of dedication, hard work and discipline,” she said.

The little superstar is now under contract with Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and will be opening at the Chicago Symphony Center on Feb. 15.