LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Composer-musician and Grammy nominee José Hernández is a fifth-generation mariachi whose life mission is to bring the tradition of mariachi music to audiences worldwide.
Locally, Hernández hopes to inspire the next generation of musicians through the Mariachi Nationals, an annual competition bringing together some of the country's top student artists in the genre.
"He's the reason why I'm here," Edgar Cavachuela from Paramount said. "He (Hernández) personally came up to me and said 'I would want you to be in the Mariachi Nationals, I think you'll make it to the finals.'"
Jorge Ramirez, of San Clemente, along with hundreds of other attendees, say they are honored and inspired to have the opportunity to learn from mariachi maestro Hernández.
This year the 6-week program included 150 young people ranging in age from 5 to 30 and from cities throughout the western United States and Mexico.
The students spend time practicing their craft in different sessions, like vocals and instruments, leading up to the grand finale at the Orange County Fair. At the fair, a winner is selected in the categories of solo vocalists and full ensembles.
Hernández is present; teaching, guiding and encouraging the young artists.
"We hope to create great citizens that can give back, that's the most important," said Hernández.
Hernández' 17th album, "Leyendas de mi Pueblo," is available now.