Dr. Rachel Yvonne Cruz is a native of Seguin, Texas. According to her mother, Mary, she sang before she spoke. Dr. Cruz earned the degree, Bachelor of Arts from the prestigious University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and both the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds teaching certificates in both Secondary Music and English as a Second Language.Cruz has held positions at Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas, where she began Austin’s first and only middle school mariachi ensemble, The Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts in Laredo, Texas, where she began the schools first mariachi ensemble, at Texas A&M International University where she established curriculum in vocal performance (opera workshop) and pedagogy, taught conducting, music history, and diction, and directed the choir, the band, and the award-winning Mariachi Internacional, and at Our Lady of the Lake University where as a specialist in the music of Mexico, most specifically, the Texas-Mexican border region, she directed the award-winning Mariachi OLLU, and was integral in the creation of the first Bachelor of Arts Degree/Music with an emphasis in Mariachi Performance and Pedagogy. Dr. Cruz has chaired several Mariachi Festival Committees at Texas A&M International University, Our Lady of the Lake University, and for the Main Plaza Conservancy that have brought-in revenue over $100,000.00 earmarked for scholarships.Dr. Cruz has demonstrated success as a performer, conductor, and educator. She was a finalist at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competition and is the winner of the UT Austin, 1996 Roy Crane Award for Creativity in the Arts. Dr. Cruz is recipient of the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board Doctoral Loan Repayment Award, was recipient of the Texas A&M University System’s Regent’s Initiative Fellowship, and guest lectured at the Texas State Historical Association Conference in her area of expertise: The History of the Music of the Texas-Mexican Border Region, with an emphasis on the Development of the Mariachi and The Effects of Concurrent Enrollment in the Transition to Higher Education.
Dr. Cruz has shared the stage with the likes of Carol King, Vikki Carr, Maya Angelou, and even Pope John Paul II, as a soloist at the World Youth Day Mass in 1993. Because of her contributions to the Live Music Capitol of the World: Austin, Tx, the City Proclaimed, September 10, 1998 as Rachel Cruz Day, a recognition usually given to entities, and not individuals.Dr. Cruz recently completed her book, The Art of Mariachi: A Curriculum Guide for Secondary Educators, is creating a series of on-line instructional videos and arrangements for secondary level mariachi students, and endorsing a line of student model mariachi instruments. She serves as Artistic Director for the Mariachi Corazón de San Antonio, a San Antonio Area All-Star High School Mariachi, and consultant for the Main Plaza Conservancy’s Mariachi Corazón de San Antonio’s Annual Mariachi Festival and Competition. She is the founder and CEO of the The IAMA Coffee Company, LLC and the International Academy of Music and the Arts (IAMA) Sound Lab that incorporates applied music studios and classrooms together with a recording studio and an artist management agency, and is the home of Mariachi Internacional de IAMA. Dr. Cruz has created a niche for like-minded people to gather, learn, and create.