San Diego-based vocalist Mariela Contreras is rapidly building an impressive fan base in Southern California thanks to her unique and soulful voice, boundless passion for music and charismatic stage presence. Whether singing high-energy dance songs, sultry R&B ballads or tasteful jazz standards, Mariela is in demand both in San Diego and Mexico, while still only in her mid-twenties. She is a featured performer in many popular San Diego acts, and her musical associations represent a who’s who of Southern California’s vibrant scene.
As a member of The Mighty Untouchables and other well-established variety groups, Mariela has worked with YMCA, Intuit, Best Buy, Sempra Energy, Girl Scouts, Marshall Faulk Foundation, and both the San Diego and Catalina Chamber of Commerce, to name but a few. She has performed at the Del Mar Race Track, USS Midway, San Diego Natural History Museum, Children’s Museum, Air and Space Museum, Hall of Champions, La Costa Resort and Spa and many more. Mariela is also a core member of Tres, an energetic Latin/pop ensemble featuring guitarists Robert Chini and Jorge Camberos. The band is currently working on its first full-length album.
Mariela was seven years old when her family moved from Mexico to the United States. She demonstrated not only early musical talent, but also the ability to assimilate a new language and culture with ease. Mariela recalls watching her parents make many sacrifices so she would have a better life, and this compelled her to focus her energy from a young age on developing her talents as a vocalist. While still in elementary school she began performing at festivals, church services and graduations. Her love of singing and entertaining people was evident to all, and her parents were happy to support young Mariela as she explored her blossoming musical talents. Without such unwavering familial support, the singer realizes she would have never gotten as far as she has in her performing career.
Mariela’s professional career began in 2004 at Rosaritos’ annual Mexicali en la Playa Festival, where she performed with Tijuana guitar legend Javier Batiz. Mariela worked frequently in Tijuana with Batiz, including shows at Centro Cultural Tijuana and Auditorio Municipal, as well as numerous television appearances. With the confidence gained from this association she went on to perform solo at fairs, halftime shows and more. Mariela became the opening act for many nationally recognized entertainers, including Teo Gonzalez, Ely Guerra, Edith Marquez and Rosana. Mariela sang the Mexican National Anthem for Tijuana’s basketball teams, and the American National Anthem for the San Diego Padres. Her voice was used in many radio commercials, and she recorded television commercials for McDonalds and Valley View Casino. Frankie J and Vazquez Sounds featured her voice in their professional recordings. Recently, Radio Latina has been playing Mariela’s version of the classic song, “Sabor a Mi.” Also, Mariela recently performed with guitar legend Lito Romero, of the Romero Guitar Quartet, at both the San Diego Fair and also the Sports Arena.
Mariela describes her insatiable love of music as being akin to a coffee addict’s craving for a double espresso. Wherever and whenever music is being played she is not only attracted to it, but also jumps at the chance to participate. This passion and fascination has been present in her life since she was a child, and remains strong today, as she steadily builds an international fan base as a multi-genre, bilingual vocal artist. In addition to her pursuits as a vocalist and entertainer, Mariela also hopes to expand her musical horizons by studying piano and other instruments, developing her abilities as a composer, and giving back the knowledge she has accrued through her own teaching and commitment to formal music education.
Some of Mariela’s main influences include Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Armando Manzanero, Luis Miguel, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Astrud Gilberto, Norah Jones and Bobby McFerrin. This eclectic list reflects Mariela’s interest in the musical complexity associated with jazz, but also the simplicity and accessibility of pop music. Some bits of wisdom she’s picked up along the way? “Have a backup job, and never drink cold liquids.” Her main artisitic goals? “Making people dance and sing along with me. I love seeing people move the way their body asks them to move.” Mariela Contreras is an exciting young Southern California artist driven by a strong work ethic, boundless passion for the creative process and numerous styles of music, and a firm grounding in family and community values.
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