For breakout stars Yahritza y Su Esencia, it's all in the family

Michael Rietmulder, The Seattle Times on

Published in Entertainment News

SEATTLE — As fast as their meteoric rise has been, Yahritza y Su Esencia’s first headlining show last month was a long time coming. Minutes before the three Yakima siblings took a Washington stage together for the first time, fans in the balcony of a sold-out Neptune Theatre erupted, chanting Yahritza Martinez’s name.

By the time the 16-year-old singer/guitarist emerged on stage — her face framed by her baseball cap du jour, chains dangling over a black T-shirt — the shrieks reached near Taylor Swift decibels as she and her older brothers, Armando (24) and Jairo (18), began a celebratory run through their star-making hit, “Soy El Unico.”

It was the home state kickoff for the family trio’s first tour, but any opening night jitters were invisible. Yahritza — whose emotive, old-soul croon could squeeze tears from a stone — confidently worked the stage with the posture of a rapper, draping herself in a Mexican flag passed to the stage and locking in with a young fan on someone’s shoulders holding a sign that read, “I sold my sister for these tickets.” Hardly anyone left the theater without a selfie, as the young siblings posed and snapped pics with cellphones that fans sent to the stage.

Their poise wasn’t surprising. Yahritza has sung for larger crowds in her group’s still-nascent career, having performed with Grupo Firme during the norteño/banda heavyweights’ Yakima concert last fall. It was, however, evidence of how far she’s come — from being a shy 8-year-old singing at family gatherings in Yakima to a leader among an exhilarating wave of young artists putting their own twist on regional Mexican music, a radio format and umbrella term encompassing myriad styles and subgenres like corrido, norteño and ranchera that emerged from rural parts of the country.

“Honestly, we’re very grateful for everybody that’s supporting our music, listening to our songs every day,” Yahritza said over a video call a week before the show, while the siblings were rehearsing in Yakima. “It’s cool to see a lot of people support us, because we’ve barely started. … It motivates us to do more and to write more and to (get) out more music.”

“Three siblings from Yakima, the fact that people love our music and they actually support us that much is just crazy,” said Armando, the oldest sibling, who plays the requinto guitar and goes by Mando. “That’s why we’re truly grateful for our hometown. That’s where it starts. After that, it’s all in the social media.”


Actually, make that four siblings. As the band’s music career took off, the trio’s big sister took on managerial duties.

Indeed, their musical journey started in small-town Washington, where the first-generation Mexican American kids grew up hearing their father play artists like Latin Grammy winners Grupo Bryndis, Los Bukis and norteño greats Conjunto Primavera, taking Mando to band practices with their uncles. (“We would sing our lungs out with Conjunto Primavera,” Mando fondly recalls.)

But it was the social media response that catapulted Yahritza y Su Esencia to fame, making history along the way. When the TikTok-boosted single “Soy El Unico” debuted at No. 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart last year, Yahritza, who was 15 at the time, became the youngest Latin performer to land on the all-genre chart.

Recorded the day after signing with Columbia Records, Yahritza first conceived the heartachey tune while scrolling TikTok one night in her bedroom and seeing a number of lovesick videos.


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