Nati Cano, leading figure in mariachi music, dies at 81
Send a link to a friend
[October 06, 2014]
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
Grammy-winning mariachi bandleader Nati Cano, who
stirred American audiences with the folk sounds of his
native Mexico and played a key role in helping to teach
young people how to play the music, has died at age 81,
a bandmate said on Saturday.
Cano died on Friday at a hospital in Fillmore, California,
after a long battle with cancer, said the bandmate, Sergio
Born in 1933 in a rural town near Guadalajara, Mexico, Natividad
"Nati" Cano grew up with the mariachi music his family of day
laborers played in their spare time.
The traditional folk music is centered on the sounds of violins,
trumpets, guitar and two guitar-like instruments unique to
Mexico, the vihuela and the guitarron.
His father taught Cano to play the vihuela, and he later went to
an academy to learn the violin before dropping out to join
family members in entertaining patrons at cantinas.
In 1960, after having moved across the U.S. border to Los
Angeles, he joined a mariachi group that he would later come to
lead and rename Los Camperos, which translates to The
Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, as the band has been known,
went on to use a Los Angeles restaurant called La Fonda as their
home base where they performed regularly. They toured with
singer Linda Ronstadt to promote her 1987 album "Canciones de mi
Padre," and were one of several mariachi bands Ronstadt relied
on to make the recording.
[to top of second column]
Cano was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment
for the Arts, and in 2008 he and Los Camperos won a Grammy Award for
best regional Mexican album for their release "Amor."
Alonso, in a phone interview, called Cano the most important figure
in popularizing mariachi music in the United States.
"He epitomized the band leader, he was stern but he was fair. He was
also very idealistic and he really romanticized mariachi music,"
Cano also played a key role in helping to start a number of mariachi
education programs in public schools in the Southwest United States.
"In Mexico, if you're thinking about education, about mariachi,
yeah, you can find good mariachi there," Cano told the Los Angeles
Daily News in 2008. "But as far as education for the kids to learn,
they're kind of behind a little bit."
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Frank McGurty and James
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.