Gabriel B. Zavala

Gabriel Zavala was born in Acambaro, a small town in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. His parents were campesinos.

He is the fourth son of a large family that includes 7 brothers and 4 sisters.

In 1955 when he was about nine years old, the family moved to Tijuana Mexico. His older brother Rafael joined a Mariachi Band playing the trumpet and he started teaching this trade to his younger brothers.

In his teen age years, Mr. Zavala taught himself to sing and play the guitar.

At age 13, along with his younger brother, Gonzalo, he participated in a singing contest in a Tijuana’s radio station  XEGM where they made it to the finals.

In 1965 all the Zavala brothers relocated to the city of Anaheim California where they  started Mariachi  Los Hermanos Zavala.

In the following 10 years Los Hermanos Zavala  toured the southwest extensively and shared the stage with many mariachi singing legends such as Amalia Mendoza, Gerardo Reyes, Lalo Gonzales “El Piporro” Ruben Rodriguez and for some time provided the back up music for Ballet Folklorico Internacional de Graciela Tapia, an attaché to the  Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles California.

They recorded several songs, among them Cicatrices and Señor Cantinero which were worthy of radio time.

In 1980 Mr. Zavala became the director of Mariachi Los Amigos and has continued playing with them to the present time.

In 1997 with the support of  a group of parents, Mr. Zavala started  RHYTHMO, a music program for boys and girls whose mission is to teach the younger generations about our rich hispanic heritage and particularly about Mariachi Music.

In May of 1998 Mr. Zavala brought together the most advanced students of RHYTHMO and founded Mariachi Anacatlan  a dinamic and energizing  group that has received many awards and is rapidly becaming the premier Mariachi Show group of Orange County.

Mr. Zavala is composer and arranger with more than 100 songs written and several recordings. He has been playing Mariachi Music for over forty years now ; his life as a mariachi musician and teacher has been full of love, friendship and adventure.

Gabriel B. Zavala is the current C.E.O. and founder of R.H.Y.T.H.M.O. INC.’S MARIACHI ACADEMY. Rhythmo stands for: Reaching Helping Youth Through our Heritage in Music Organization.  Rhythmo is a recognized 501 (c)(3) public charity that teaches fine arts to boys and girls of all ages through the medium of Mariachi music.

With so many recent budget cuts in the state of California, it seems school music programs are one of the first to receive budget cut backs.   In many instances, particularly the elementary school level, music programs have been cut altogether.  This is a sharp contrast in ideology in light of several studies that indicate children involved in music classes perform significantly higher in academics, particularly in the areas of math and reading.  Recent reports show an alarming dropout rate among the Latino community.  In spite of this problem, Zavala has provided access to the world of fine arts to hundreds of at-risk children in his hometown of Anaheim, California for the last 16 years.

In a world where our children are inundated with violent images and messages via video game, television and ever-popular gangster rap, Zavala’s Mariachi Academy provides a safe haven where children can focus and hone their musical skills.  He provides an outlet for children to express themselves in a unique and positive way.

Many of Zavala’s students have gone on to professional mariachi groups.  Some have even been featured on television and films, but Zavala does not expect all students to be professional musicians.  He only hopes that the discipline and values he instills in his students at his Mariachi Academy will serve as tools and a gateway that sets them towards a path of realizing their full potential.

At an age where most people are enjoying their retirements, Zavala is hard at work Monday thru Friday doing what he loves best.  Making a difference in a young persons life by putting instruments of hope into their hands.

Online Articles


Spotlight on RHYTHMO Inc. Mariachi Academy

Theresa Cisneros OC Register April 27, 2012

Gabriel Zavala will discuss the artistry of mariachi music

Ron Gonzales OC Register April 12, 2012

Anaheim mariachi group seeks members, grant writers

Theresa Cisneros OC Register December 14, 2009