Arizona celebrates Hispanic Heritage month with traditional “Grito”

Student Aixa Alvarez is part of the Mariachi program at Desert Sounds. (Photo by Lillian Griego/Cronkite News)

Phoenix – Hispanic Heritage month celebrations featuring mariachi music also include a “grito,” a traditional yell, an expression of joy and appreciation during songs.

“It happens a lot of time when there is a pause in the music and it happens in the beginning of some of the songs they do but I cant tell you specifically when”says Chris Donlon, mariachi director for Deserts Sounds.

Deserts Sounds seeks to “improve access to the arts, improve the lives of young people, and foster a love of music,” at a time when many school districts are cutting programs according to the non-profit organization’s webpage.

The Mariachi program also helps children celebrate their heritage. Donlon’s students have been learning songs for about a year. They’re also working on their “gritos” Donlon teaches by example giving his own grito for the class.

There are different types of gritos “The mariachi yell is one of pure happiness and for Mexican Independence Day we yell “viva Mexico,” says Juan Juan Oliveros, parent of one of the students who attended a recent rehearsal.

The president of Mexico re-enacts the “grito” or cry of independence at 16th of September celebrations. “In 1810 Father Hidalgo in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato led a rebellion against the Spaniards,” said Jose Antonio Aguayo Vazquez, Deputy Consul General in Phoenix. Mexican consulates across the U.S. give their own “grito” to commemorate the holiday. It coincides with the start of Hispanic Heritage month in the U.S. which runs September 15 through October 15th.

“The grito has historic significance,” said Aguayo Vasquez.