PILSEN — As a young girl in Los Angeles learning traditional Mariachi songs on violin, Julie Murillo sometimes wondered if she'd ever get the chance to play those songs professionally.
"I'd noticed that all Mariachis were male and I'd say, 'Okay, I’m going be that one girl who’s gonna make it,' " Murillo, 35, said.
And make it she did. Murillo is the leader of America’s first all-women Mariachi band, currently kicking off Del Corazon, a Chicago music festival from the National Museum of Mexican Art.
The Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles will play Millennium Park at 7 p.m. Wednesday — the first of three major events for the Del Corazon (“of the heart”) festival, now in its sixth year.
The group, started by Mariachi Jose Hernandez in 1994, has performed for Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise and Tom Petty, among other celebs, according to Mariachi Reyna’s website.
With musical events spanning the next three months, Del Corazon both pays homage to Mexican music and promotes awareness of the country’s culture, according to National Museum of Mexican Art vice president Phillip Jimenez.
“Lately there’s been a genuine increased appetite for not only Mexican culture, but culture in general in the city,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said he predicts between 5,000-6,000 people for Wednesday’s mariachi night, a free evening at Millennium Park that also includes Chicago-based mariachi band Perla de Mexico.
While Murillo and the 12 other lady Mariachis have played Chicago before, they have yet to stand on Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion.
"We saw pictures, we’re really excited for it," Murillo said. "I get nervous, I get excited. Just knowing they’re enjoying our music it’s a great feeling."
Following Wednesday’s performance, Del Corazon has two more events, including a Mexican Indie Music Soundcase on Oct. 5 and a Day of the Dead Ball — a costume party featuring music by the Sones de Mexico Ensemble on Nov 2.