Banda, norteño, mariachi and other related genres tend to be a male-dominated. However, there are plenty of women who have proven to not only stand up to any man in talent and vocal strength, but also in legacy. There’s a reason so many of them are considered reinas of their genre…and their fans.
Here’s some of the greatest female voices in Mexican música regional, who have changed the game and became icons.
CREDIT: Latin GRAMMYS / Univision
The late singer was often referred to as “La Diva de la Banda,” and it’s easy to see why. Not only did she have an powerful voice that blew everyone away with its ferocity, she was a boss bitch and knew it. Jenni kept it real always, swigging booze on stage and calling out anyone who tried with her. Praise.
Vargas is one of the greatest Latino voices of all time, and often considered the Queen of Rancheras. The Costa Rican-born singer came to Mexico at age 14 to make it in music, and spent years singing on the streets. She’d later become a trailblazer in the genre, singing in her own style among mostly men in the ’50s. Her uniqueness eventually landed her friends like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Listen to “La Llorona” and try to not get chills all over your body.
Credit: Universal Music Latino via Giphy
When Grupo Límite hit the scene in the mid ’90s, we were gifted with Alicia Villarreal’s piercing voice. She eternally sounds 12, but then when she lets loose, watch out. She’s not playing games. Even if her braces and trencitas tricked you into thinking she was just a sweet girl. If it’s been awhile, do yourself a favor and listen to “Te Aprovechas.” Warning: you’ll be playing this on repeat for days.
CREDIT: Credit: Fonovisa
The former beauty queen has definitely always had looks on her side, but it was her talent paired with her sex appeal that brought her huge success in the grupero genre. “La Trampa” is still a classic! She capitalized on her beauty and voice with some acting and judging work, but always comes back to her first love of music.
CREDIT: Credit: Fonovisa
La Reyna del Pueblo, as she’s often called, is considered one of the most influential artists in the genre of música regional, dipping into banda, rancheras and mariachi. She was once featured along with Selena on a comp album titled ‘Las Reinas del Pueblo,’ which is how she solidified her nickname. Her voice is undeniable. Listen to “Pa’ Que Volver” and you’ll see why.
CREDIT: Credit: Sony Music Latin
Lila is often credited with taking the various genres of traditional Mexican music and adding a modern, punk rock spin to them, singing openly about politics and feminism. She’s an all-around badass, with a deep, reverberating voice that makes her a crowd favorite every time she hits the stage. Singing in English and Spanish, Lila embraces her power and uses her voice to command the audience into embracing their own. Maybe that’s why she’s a “Peligrosa.”
CREDIT: Credit: Notimundo
Like so many of her counterparts on this list, Aida Cuevas is also considered a queen. As “La Reina de la Música Ranchera,” she reigns through her gorgeously strong voice that often drips with pain. She sings with an authority that makes her one of the greats, and even though she’s passing 40 years in the business she’s still going, lighting up stages with a backing mariachi.
CREDIT: Credit: El Universal
Lola La Grande, as she was lovingly called, built a prosperous and influential career making mariachi music that set the standard for those that came after her. Her version of “Paloma Negra” is not only achingly beautiful, it’s considered one of the best for her ability to hit every note in this tough song. It’s just perfect.
Priscila y Sus Balas de Plata
This banda group got down on a few covers, including one of “I Will Survive” that scored them a hit. Lead singer, Priscila, not only flexed her vocal abilities, she also played the accordion while performing. Having been raised by a composer father, she knew she was destined to be a star, and she made it happen for herself in the banda world. And it wasn’t just her! Her brother and sister were members of her band.
CREDIT: EMI Latin
I mean, duh. I don’t want a flurry of hate comments. We know Selena is forever a queen.