A Southern California man who grew up as the only Black child in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood fell so deeply in love with Mexican music and culture that, today, he’s made a name for himself in the mariachi world.
His rancheras, a genre of traditional music in Mexico, are solid, and his Spanish – although not his first language – is perfect.
Over the years, the Black mariachi singer has shared the stage with some of the biggest artists in Mexico’s recording industry. Today, Pollard even has his own Spanish-language album, “Me Regalo Contigo.”
Pollard was born in Dallas, Texas. When he was 8, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles County. His family was the only African American family in the neighborhood.
Each day, Pollard’s Spanish-speaking neighbors would play Mexican music loudly – and even though Pollard didn’t understand a word of it – he really liked it.
Thus, his passion for music in Spanish was born.
“(My neighbors) turned me into a lover of Mexican music,” he told Telemundo 20.
Pollard said, as a kid, he only knew a few basic words in Spanish: hola, loco, tacos, burritos, enchiladas.
But the language barrier didn’t stop him from appreciating the music blasting through his neighborhood. For him, the mariachi genre was all about heart, and that’s what he drew him to it.
“When I heard Vicente Fernandez’s voice, I was in love; I was in love with this music,” he said.
But it wouldn’t be until 20 years later that Pollard decided to do more than just listen to music in Spanish.
He wanted to sing it.
At the age of 28, he decided to learn Spanish.
“I’m a person interested in customs, cultures, and languages,” he explained.
And he was good at it, too.
He practiced the language by listening to music and singing, which helped him learn the words faster. No one in his family spoke Spanish, but Pollard said his family always supported his passion for Mexican culture.
Over the years, Mexican music has become a major part of his identity – and his successes.
He has been invited to sing on television and even once shared a stage with his idol, Vicente Fernandez. To this day, he’s grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Although getting this far in the mariachi music industry has been a dream come true for Pollard, it hasn’t always been easy because of the color of his skin.
“For me, racism doesn’t exist,” he said. “It happens, but I don’t give it my attention.”
He just wants to keep singing and doing what he loves.
Along with Mexican music, Pollard has also embraced the culture's food.
He told NBC 7 he eats “as if he had been born in Mexico.”
“Just yesterday, I made pollo guisado con chile habanero,” he added.
You can read this story in Spanish on Telemundo 20 here.