Meet Lupita Infante, the Mexican-American Feminist of Ranchera Music

Lupita Infante BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Lupita Infante/Randall Slavin.

A legendary family name comes with tremendous pressures — for better or worse. Being the child of an icon in any industry means standing up for one’s talent and fending off speculation of a “silver spoon” upbringing. But for Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lupita Infante, the story has been different.

Although she carries a mighty and storied last name, she never led the supposed celebrity lifestyle. Infante studied at UCLA and worked as a Lyft driver to pay her bills. 

Even more interesting is the music she is making.

The singer-songwriter follows in the footsteps of her grandfather, Pedro Infante, in terms of the ranchera genre, but with a personal and modern twist. In fact, Lupita Infante is more authentic, deeply feminist, and makes music befitting her life as a 35-year-old Millennial raised by an empowered mother.

Amid the promotion of the first single from her second album, Lupita Infante took a moment to talk to BELatina about the song “Házme Tuya,” her relationship with her mother, the importance of studying as a first-generation, and much more.

It seems like you grew up in a more normal environment than others would in your place. Was this intentional? How was your experience?

I’ve had a very typical first-Gen experience, you know, identifying with all of these first-Gen challenges. My mom came from Zacatecas when she was 16 years old, and she’s a very independent woman. She has been working her whole life. She is probably the hardest working person I know, and she taught me that work ethic. She has been probably my biggest influence as far as being a strong, independent woman and being able just to make those decisions that will affect your future, your life, all of those things. I feel like thanks to her, I’ve been able to become a woman that I’m very proud of.

Lupita Infante 2 BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Lupita Infante/Randall Slavin.

What was the importance of studying ethnomusicology and continuing your educational career at UCLA versus just going down the complete artist route?

I think for us first-generation kids in this country, it’s important because you want to be able to leave something for your future generations. You want to be able to, in a way, “level up.” I think for us, education is one way to accomplish that. I think it was really important for me to get that foundation because also it’s like a Plan B. I didn’t think music could work out for me; I wasn’t sure.

Why not have that backup plan just in case? I can always go into that field. But luckily, now it’s just another part of my journey that does enrich my music and my experience and sharing that experience with an audience because I have that background and that knowledge. Ethnomusicology studies the origin of music historically, culturally, and how it’s a part of our lives. And you know, being the granddaughter of Pedro Infante, I feel like even his image, he’s an icon. He is a cultural icon. I think it’s vital that I understand what that means to so many other people who are living my experience – and the Mexican experience – and to be able just to explore that part of my life academically.

It really has just enriched my artistry in a different way that I didn’t really expect. And now, as a professional in music, I’m really glad that it was a sacrifice to be in school and to be trying to keep up my music, keep up recording. It was a lot of work at that time. I was even a Lyft driver and just doing everything I could. I was teaching at the time. I probably had like two or three jobs at the same time, but it was all worth it.

How is your support system structured?

My mom is like my rock, you know, so she has a lot of advice. She tells me things that I don’t even repeat. She’s amazing. She always tells me, “cree en ti, echale ganas, no seas pendeja.” Whenever I’m down, my mom is the person I go to because she just knows how to give me animos. In certain moments, you think you have it bad in certain moments, but then you realize that your parents had it a lot worse. So I feel like she has this incredible outlook on life, and she’s always just willing to share that with me and in this magical way, and she’s just amazing.

Tell us about “Hazme Tuya.” How does this single fight the common stereotype that surrounds the ranchera?

I don’t intentionally try to be a feminist. I think just my experience being a woman raised by a very independent, strong woman, I think that comes out in the music. I remember just being a little kid, always being so bossy, like, towards little boys. That’s because that’s what I saw. My mom was like that, too. And I think it just kind of translates into the music as well. And for me, it’s something that just feels right. It’s so natural to want to express myself in this way. And with “Hazme Tuya,” I’m telling the guy, like, hey, hello. I like you. Are you going to do something about it or not? So it’s just very open in that way. Whereas I think you’re not supposed to be like that in Mexican culture, even in the past or even now. You have to wait for the guy. And I’m like, “I don’t have time for that.”

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Photo courtesy of Lupita Infante/Randall Slavin.

How do you envision your career? You’re a fresh voice to the new generation currently breaking these types of gender-norm stereotypes. What do you want your new album to express?

I think it will be an honest account of my experiences. And I think what makes me different from other artists in this genre is obviously the place where I grew up and the experiences I had here. I’m a Mexican American singing Mexican music in the United States; it could get pretty complex.

But you’re going to hear just these accounts of honest and authentic experiences that I’ve had. And that’s what I’m most excited about in the album. “Hazme Tuya” is kind of like a little preview. And I’m just really excited for what’s to come because I talk about stuff that happens in the relationship. My husband and I feel like we don’t have the “normal” roles where I’m not the stay-at-home lady. I don’t really want kids. I love my career. He loves that I love my career.

He’s down to do the dishes if I’m not, which, you know, is stuff like that where we’re not normal. But it works so well. And I’m just so thankful that I have that incredible support system, and I’m going to share, in some cases, all of that through the music. I’m just excited for people to listen, and maybe they won’t like it. Who knows? Perhaps it’ll be too forward for some people, but we’ll find out soon.

Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

I’m excited to be another woman in this music genre because I know that even me just being here, showing up, it’s opening the doors for future generations. I know that the goal is bigger than just myself, and I hope people enjoy this music. I hope people enjoy “Hazme Tuya,” but I want to be an opening door for the rest — let the floodgates open and have women be just as dominant as men.