Rising Rana

By: Giovanni Escalera

The only way to describe the sound of Rana Santacruz is like a mixture of folk, bluegrass, rock and what some call “Irish mariachi.” In other words, when you see him onstage, dressed in a mariachi outfit and carrying an accordion, you shouldn’t exactly expect to hear him play standards such as “El Rey.”

Santacruz explores the roots of Mexican music without sounding cliché or predictable. His lyrics, inspired by Gabriel García Márquez, make him more than your average singer/songwriter: he’s a consummate storyteller.

He started his music career with La Catrina in Mexico City. The band became another victim of the transnational companies that didn’t know what to do with them, setting them free in the late 1990s.

In 2002, Santacruz  moved to New York City to pursue a career as a solo artist. Seven years later, he released his debut solo album, Chicavasco. The album merges rhythms of jarocho, Tex-Mex, bluegrass, polka, ranchero and folk, blending them in a natural way that creates a beautifully harmonic and original style. Key tracks are “Mariquita,” “El Funeral de Tacho” and “El Ranchero Punk.”

Why this artist should be the next big thing in global music? Santacruz has a distinctive music style. He dignifies the image of the mariachi and preserves his Mexican roots with original and magical lyrics and music. In his production to be released in 2014, Santacruz explores cumbia, accompanied with banjo, upright bass and violin. But don’t wait until then: catch him live now.

Giovanni Escalera is a music producer, writer and DJ based in New York City. He released four albums with his band Sweet Electra, and is currently producing a solo project called Too White to be Mexican in collaboration with other artists from Latin America.