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A GRAMMY Winner teaches at Palo Alto College

Juan OrtizNot many community college students can say they are taught by a GRAMMY Award winner, but Palo Alto College students can.

Juan B. Ortiz started the Mariachi music program at Palo Alto in 1996. He does not seek acclaim, but he has received music’s top honor – the GRAMMY.  And not one, but two.

You may recognize Juan – with his distinctive mustache – as the Director of Campanas de América. He is an accomplished and talented musician. They have performed all over the country, including at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  He directs our popular student mariachi group, Mariachi Palomino. They perform throughout the City and at PACfest and at Palo Alto’s Graduation ceremony.

In January, a former student let us know that Juan had won an American Grammy and a Latin Grammy as the violinist for an album, “Recuerdos,” with Little Joe & La Familia.

The American Grammy was announced in February 2011 and the Latin Grammy in November 2011, but Juan didn’t actually receive his awards until late January.

Ortiz speculated that the album won because “these are all Mexican songs done cowboy style.” The group is led by Little Joe, who has been in the business for 50 years, with accompaniment by a guitar, steel guitar, bass and violin.

Palo Alto honored him at a reception on March 19, and he was featured in a Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express-News.

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