Not so long ago, Yahritza Martinez and his older brothers Armando and Jairo were helping their father pick apples in the fields of Yakima, Washington, a small town best known for its vineyards and apple orchards. More than children of farm workers, it was a family tradition, especially after school or during summer vacation.
In their free time, the Martinez siblings hung out in their bedroom parading on TikTok or taught themselves to play an instrument — two hobbies that eventually led them to become Yahritza y Su Esencia, the young family band already breaking chart records on their very first single.
“It’s going so fast”, says Armando, alias “Mando”, 24 years old Billboard.
The band, made up of Yahritza on vocals and guitar, Jairo on bajoloche (4-string acoustic bass) and Mando on 12-string guitar, made Billboard story this week, after their debut single “Soy El Unico (released March 25 via Lumbre Music) debuted at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs, and peaked at No. 20 on the Hot 100 chart, making the 15-year-old rising artist the youngest Latin performer to enter the all-genre tally.
“It’s like, ‘Wow, I made it to the top 20,'” Yahritza reacted. “I didn’t know I was going to be up there. It’s really crazy for me.
It all started on TikTok
Before they made history this week, before the official launch of their “Soy El Unico” on all DSPs, and even before deciding on a group name, Yahritza, Mando and Jairo were creating a base fans on TikTok.
“It all started when I opened my TikTok last year,” recalls 17-year-old Jairo. “I only had it to watch videos but it was Mando who told me that I had to post my videos playing bajoloche. At first I did a few covers alone, but one day after school I asked Yahritza to join me.
The first video they posted together was a cover of Ivan Cornejo’s 2021 Hot 100 hit “Esta Dañada”, which according to Jairo “went pretty viral”, reaching over 715,000 views at the time of posting.
It was this same video that landed on the TikTok “For You” page of Ramon Ruiz, CEO of Lumbre Music, one afternoon in January. “His voice really caught my attention,” said Ruiz, also a member of corridos band Legado 7. “It gave me chills because it’s something I had never heard before.”
@jairo.bruh #voiceeffects #ivancornejo#estadanada #fyp#viral#bajoloche#foryoupage RUN IT UP!!!!! @yngkevz14🎤@itz_yahri14 ♬ original sound – Jairo.bruh
As someone always on the lookout for new talent – and also credited for discovering Fuerza Regida and Herencia de Patrones – Ruiz, alongside label president (and Legado 7 member) Alex Guerra and filmmaker David Cruz, flew from Los Angeles to Yakima to meet the Martinez family the following month.
While in Yakima, Ruiz and Guerra not only recorded three original songs for Yahritza y Su Esencia, but also held a small gathering with family and friends, where the band performed and eventually signed their very first recording contract.
Cruz documented every step of the journey – including a 15-second clip of Yahritza recording the heartfelt chorus of “Soy El Unico” at the studio, a video that went viral in no time and put her honeyed, soulful vocals and his deep lyrics on the mainstream radar.
“There was no strategy, no hiring of TikTokers – it all happened organically,” Ruiz assures. Currently, the video has over 28 million views and has inspired over 150,000 video creations.
The appeal of “Soy El Unico”
“Unico” was already a hit even before its release, thanks in large part to its ultra-personal and very relatable line, “Mucho tiempo me gastaste y eso no puedo recuperarlo/ Trato de olvidarte esta noche, como deberia de hacer hace tiempo” (You wasted a lot of my time and I can’t get this back/ I’m trying to forget you tonight, like I should have done a long time ago).
@videobydavidcruz YAHRITZA 🔥 @jairo.bruh #lumbremusic #legado7 #corridos #corridostumbados #mexico #yahritza ♬ original sound – Videobydavidcruz
But beyond his words, it is the voice that tells this sorrow, coming from a quinceañera who often wears baseball caps and oversized hoodies.
“I know words are very strong but honestly, when it comes to writing my songs, it’s more like a research process,” Yahritza explains. “I see other people’s stories on TikTok – that’s how I found ‘Soy El Unico’, because I saw a clip that said, ‘It’s crazy how someone can leaving while you’re the only one is best for him. No one is going to believe me when I say I’m inspired by TikTok.
“Soy El Unico,” which is the first song Yahritza wrote when he was 13, was also inspired by a real-life situation his brother Mando experienced. “I don’t write my songs especially for anyone. I just observe what’s going on around me and get ideas,” she continues.
And that combination, precisely, of raw talent and true stories, became the perfect mix for the band. “Every song she sings gives your skin goosebumps. Everything she sings is very ‘chingon,'” Guerra says. as perfect before.”
Everything in the Family
Yahritza, Mando and Jairo are self-taught musicians. Mando started playing guitar when he was 10 years old. Jairo eventually learned bass by watching his older brother. And Yahritza picked up the guitar less than a year ago.
They are three of five siblings – children of two hardworking farm workers from Michoacan, Mexico, whose love for music stems from two of their uncles, who were once in a band. As a group, Yahritza y Su Esencia appreciates the same type of music and artists: Ed Maverick, Ivan Cornejo and Caliber 50, to name a few. But in addition to creating their own sad sierreños, they want to revolutionize mexican music.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but our guitars are simple,” Mando says. “I don’t go crazy with guitars or I don’t ornaments — because we like Yahritza’s voice to stand out. Music is what fuels this project.
Their older sister, Adriana, took on the role of the group’s personal manager.
“They adapt to it so quickly,” she says. “When they were shooting the clips in Miami, they just kind of just happened so naturally that I didn’t know they had that in them. I was so emotional watching them because she’s my little sister. I changed her nappies and now she’s performing. I was amazed.”
And a similar family affair is reflected in their Lumbre Music team, made up of three other members in addition to Ruiz and Guerra: Brayan Guerra, coo; Bryant Orta, co; and Ximena Acosta, strategy and marketing.
“We are a small team, but we did the work of 100 people in just a few weeks. We try to be as efficient as possible,” Ruiz shares proudly, admitting that major Latin and mainstream labels have already expressed interest in signing the promising act. “We just want to do what’s best for them,” he notes.
For now, Yahritza y Su Esencia is enjoying her newfound fame while balancing a regular life in Yakima. Mando works as a freelance barber, and Jairo and Yahritza attend AC Davis High School, while helping their father pick apples in the fields. Then, Yahritza y Su Esencia will release their first EP with five original songs and should go on tour with Legado 7 and the rest of the artists of Lumbre Music.
“It’s just love and passion – but more than anything, it’s their humble story,” Guerra says. “It motivates all of us to help them move forward and achieve their dreams.”