article written by Mario J. Lucero
companion article with our sister publication New Mexico Cultural Encyclopedia & Lexicon
New Mexico is the homestate of several popular music artists from across music genres, from country to hip-hop to pop. Including the likes of Demi Lovato known for her acting chops and her pop, rock, and R&B music. New Mexico is also home to its very own music traditions, the eponymously named New Mexico music is deeply rooted in the state’s Native American and Latin traditions.
The unique sound of the New Mexico music genre began developing before New Mexico’s official founding in 1598, to the ancient music heritage of the Pueblo peoples, in the region that the Spanish called “Nuevo México”. Throughout its history the music picked up Neomexicano, Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Mexican, cowboy Western music, and after statehood in 1912 the style incorporated country, rock n’ roll, rockabilly, jazz, and modern Latin into its sound.
New Mexico music entered New Mexico’s popular music sphere during the 1950s and 60s, as brothers Al Hurricane, Tiny Morrie, and Baby Gaby entered the scene. Many talented musicians and music groups have since contributed to this unique music genre’s growth, here is but a small sample of the women that have contributed to this distinct folk music style.
An icon of Northern New Mexico music. The musical groups she’s been a part of, including Bayou Seco and Trio Jalapeño, have helped revitalize New Mexico’s acoustic string band sound. Making way for bands such as Lone Piñon to keep the tradition alive. This PBS documentary “El Ranchito De Las Flores” was created by KNME’s Colores program, it contains footage of her accordion and guitar playing mastery.
Hailing from Whiteriver, Arizona, their distinctive take on New Mexico music classics such as “Yo Sere Tu Prision” and “Flor De Las Flores” demonstrates their proficiency of the craft. According to their official Facebook page, this family band was “founded by Midnite and Lee and carried on by the children Matt, Rhoda, and Laura.” The song “Sweet Navajo Love” blends their New Mexico music and country music skill.
The lip-sync style music video of “Toma Esta Flor” debuted on the Val de la O Show during the 1970s. Her music was a major hit with New Mexico music’s newly formed popular music wave, following the 1960s hits of Al Hurricane’s “Sentimiento” and “Rumbo al Sur” and Tiny Morrie’s “Lonely Letters” and “Sangre de Indio”, New Mexico music was riding high throughout the 1970s. Gloria married Tiny Morrie, and they had several children together, including Lorenzo Antonio and all four of the members of Sparx.
One of her first hit-singles, “Ship of Fools”, first graced dance halls and fiestas alike during the mid-1980s. In 1993, it eventually made its way to the airwaves, on local New Mexico music radio station KANW. Since then her music has become a staple, including her mariachi sets and inclusion on the annual New Mexico Music Series.
After their first hit, “Te Amo, Te Amo, Te Amo”, sisters Veronica, Rosamaria, Kristyna, and Carolina have brought New Mexico music to Latin and Regional Mexican music fans alike worldwide. Along with their brother Lorenzo Antonio, they have a fanbase throughout Latin America and have charted on Billboard numerous times. The video for “Como No Voy A Quererte” features an appearance by their cousin Al Hurricane Jr. on the trumpet.
This primer is simply an introduction to the females in this music style, which has also been moved by the likes of Tanya Griego, Dawn Luz, Dynette Marie, Brenda Ortega, Bennie Sanchez, Erika Sanchez, and many others. Let’s not forget to mention the numerous guys in the genre, such as Los Reyes de Albuquerque, Cuarenta y Cinco, Roberto Griego, Campeones del Desierto, Freddie Brown, Christian Sanchez, and Al Hurricane Jr. And then there is neighboring Tejano/Tex-Mex, which are also worth mentioning, which includes the legendary music of Selena Quintanilla and Little Joe.
Perhaps further lists will be in order, one day in the nearby future.