New Mexico music (Spanish: música nuevo mexicana)[1] is a genre of music that originated in the US state of New Mexico. It derives from Pueblo music in the 13th century,[2] and with the folk music of Hispanos during the 16th to 19th centuries in Santa Fe de Nuevo México.

During the early 1900s, the genre began to incorporate country music and American folk music. The 1950s and 1960s brought the influences of blues, jazz, rockabilly, and rock and roll into New Mexico music. During the 1970s, the music style entered popular music in the Southwestern United States.[3][2][4][5][6]

The language of the vocals in New Mexico music is usually Mexican and New Mexican Spanish, American and New Mexican English, Spanglish, Tiwa, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and/or Southern Athabaskan languages.


The musical history of New Mexico goes back to pre-colonial times, but the sounds that define New Mexico music begin particularly with the ancestral Puebloans. Their music survived in the traditional songs of the Pueblo people with wind instruments such as the Anasazi flute, as well as the chants and drum beats of the Navajo and Apache.[7][8]

In Santa Fe de Nuevo México, the Hispanos of New Mexico brought Christian liturgical music, the violin, and the Spanish guitar, and Mexico brought with it the traditions of mariachi and ranchera.[9]

After New Mexico became a territory, the people of the American frontier brought the traditions of country and Cajun music. This was when the first forms of New Mexico music began to be played. Western was an adaption of country and Cajun, accompanied by traditionally Mexican and Native American instruments.

New Mexico music is distinguished by its bouncy and steady rhythm, while accompanied by instruments common in Pueblo music, Western, Norteño, Apache music, country, mariachi, and Navajo music. Country and western music lend their drum and/or guitar style sections, while the steadiness of the rhythm owes its origins to the music of the Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo. And the differing rates of that tempo comes from the three common ranchera rhythm speeds, the polka at 2/4 (ranchera polkeada), the waltz at 3/4 (ranchera valseada), and/or the bolero at 4/4 (bolero ranchero).

After statehood, the music was sung at parties and in homes as traditional folk music, and New Mexico music grew in popularity with native New Mexicans, mostly with the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, Neomexicanos, and the descendants of the American frontier.[10] Musicians in the genre received prominent airtime on KANW,[11] and international recognition on the syndicated Val De La O Show.[12]

Songs and musicians

Smithsonian Folkways has released traditional New Mexico music on the following albums: Spanish and Mexican Folk Music of New Mexico (1952),[13] Spanish Folk Songs of New Mexico (1957),[14] Music of New Mexico: Native American Traditions (1992),[15] and Music of New Mexico: Hispanic Traditions (1992).[16] These albums feature recordings of songs like "Himno del Pueblo de las Montañas de la Sangre de Cristo" (lit. "Hymn of the Pueblo of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains") as performed by Cleofis Vigil and "Pecos Polka" as performed by Gregorio Ruiz and Henry Ortiz, "It's Your Fault That You're Looking for Your Horses All Night" as performed by The Turtle Mountain Singers, "Entriega de Novios" as performed by Felix Ortega, "Welcome Home" by Sharon Burch, as well as other classic New Mexico folk songs. The albums also include takes on other New Mexico folk music by multiple New Mexico musicians. John Donald Robb left a significant collection of 3,000 field recordings of Nuevomexicano, Native, and cowboy music, among others, to the University of New Mexico.[a]

Roots revival style New Mexico music, recorded by musicians like Antonia Apodaca, Fernando Celicion, Cleofes Vigil, and Cipriano Vigil, is today performed by bands like Lone Piñon.[17][18][19][20]

Country music artist Michael Martin Murphey released an album titled Land of Enchantment. Tracks such as "Land of the Navajo" and "Land of Enchantment" made use of various instruments typically found in New Mexico music. Other country musicians incorporate New Mexico style music into their sound, including Billy Dawson, Daniel Solis, Josh Grider, and Shawn Brooks.[21][22][23][24]

Neotraditional New Mexico music thrives due to the continued popularity of the late Al Hurricane and A. Paul Ortega,[25][26] along with modern musicians Al Hurricane Jr., Robert Mirabal,[27] Darren Cordova,[28] Lorenzo Antonio, Sparx, Cuarenta y Cinco, Apache Spirit, Dynette Marie, and Tobias Rene.[6][29][30][31] These Neotraditional musicians are regularly featured as headlining pop artists during the New Mexico State Fair.[32][33] They are also sought-after performers for events such as Fiestas de Santa Fe, Fourth of July celebrations, sporting events, and Balloon Fiesta, as well as at venues such as the New Mexican casinos.[34][35][36]


Awards and recognition



  1. ^ "La Música Nuevo Mexicana: Tradiciones Religiosas y Seculares de la Colección de Juan B. Rael – Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection". The Library of Congress (in Spanish). Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "New Mexico Public Radio Nurtures its Unique Music Beat". Corporation for Public Broadcasting. October 5, 2015. Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Mary Caroline Montaño (January 1, 2001), Tradiciones Nuevomexicanas: Hispano Arts and Culture of New Mexico, UNM Press, ISBN 978-0-8263-2137-4
  4. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1974), New Mexico: A Guide to the Colorful State, US History Publishers, pp. 8–, ISBN 978-1-60354-030-8
  5. ^ Mary Jane Walker (2008), Family Music and Family Bands in New Mexico Music, ISBN 978-0-549-63692-2
  6. ^ a b Arellano, Gustavo (November 8, 2017). "The 10 Best Songs of New Mexico Music, America's Forgotten Folk Genre". Latino USA. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  7. ^ Kip Lornell (May 29, 2012), Exploring American Folk Music: Ethnic, Grassroots, and Regional Traditions in the United States, Univ. Press of Mississippi, pp. 245–, ISBN 978-1-61703-264-6
  8. ^ Esther Grisham; Mira Bartok; Christine Ronan (May 1996), The Navajo, Good Year Books, ISBN 978-0-673-36314-5
  9. ^ Hispano Folk Music of the Rio Grande Del Norte, UNM Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0-8263-1884-8
  10. ^ Robb, J.D.; Bratcher, J.; Ruiz-Fabrega, T.; Fletcher, M.P.; Tillotson, R. (2008). Hispanic Folk Songs of New Mexico: With Selected Songs Collected, Transcribed, and Arranged for Voice with Piano Or Guitar Accompaniment. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-4434-2. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  11. ^ "New Mexico Spanish Music". KANW. November 14, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  12. ^ Martinez, Rozanna M. (November 24, 2020). "Honoring cultural impact: New Mexico Music Hall of Fame goes virtual with award show". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  13. ^ "Spanish and Mexican Folk Music of New Mexico". Smithsonian Folkways. January 1, 1952. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  14. ^ "Spanish Folk Songs of New Mexico". Smithsonian Folkways. January 1, 1957. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  15. ^ "Music of New Mexico: Native American Traditions". Smithsonian Folkways. May 21, 1992. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  16. ^ "Music of New Mexico: Hispanic Traditions". Smithsonian Folkways. May 21, 1992. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  17. ^ North, Monica Roman Gagnier / Journal (February 16, 2020). "The master of New Mexico music". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "Mix Regional: Southwest". Mixonline. April 11, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  19. ^ "Himno del Pueblo de las Montañas de la Sangre de Cristo". Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  20. ^ "Live! In the Archive: an Interview with Lone Piñon – Folklife Today". Library of Congress Blogs. June 8, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  21. ^ Drawhorn, Aaron (April 14, 2016). "Country singer releases new song about New Mexico". KRQE NEWS 13 – Breaking News, Albuquerque News, New Mexico News, Weather, and Videos. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  22. ^ Gomez, Adrian (December 22, 2017). "Changing lanes: Daniel Solis Band blends pop, country, New Mexico music". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  23. ^ Romero, Leah (November 21, 2021). "'Long Way From Las Cruces': Josh Grider reflects on his music career in latest album". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  24. ^ "Ticketed Events Nearby". HoldMyTicket. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  25. ^ Herrera, Dan (January 16, 2016). "The legendary Al Hurricane's farewell tour". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  26. ^ Steinberg, David (November 29, 2015). "Famed Mescalero Apache singer A. Paul Ortega to retire, say goodbye to fans". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  27. ^ "Artist Info and Schedule". Globalquerque. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  28. ^ "BOXING; Sparring With Demons, One Day at a Time". The New York Times. September 23, 2003. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  29. ^ "New Mexico Hispano Music Association". January 7, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  30. ^ Apache Spirit (2008), Indian Cowboy, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Alta Vista, OCLC 827545369, Flor De Las Flores" "Indian Cowboy
  31. ^ Lyons, Luke (September 27, 2018). "Musical festival brings in top New Mexico, regional acts". The Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  32. ^ "Indian Village". New Mexico State Fair. September 8, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  33. ^ "Villa Hispana". New Mexico State Fair. September 8, 2022. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  34. ^ "Hurricane Fest features legendary musician's son, War, Tower of Power". Albuquerque Journal. May 3, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  35. ^ Gomez, Adrian (June 29, 2022). "A look at Fourth of July festivities from around the state". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  36. ^ Elizondo, Aleli (August 8, 2022). "Mariachi Night at the Isotopes park honors Al Hurricane". KRQE NEWS 13 – Breaking News, Albuquerque News, New Mexico News, Weather, and Videos. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
  37. ^ "New Mexico Spanish Music". KANW. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  38. ^ Aldama, A.J.; Sandoval, C.; GarcĂa, P.J. (2012). Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands. Indiana University Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-253-00295-2. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  39. ^ "Native Music Hours". KANW. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  40. ^ "Listen to Native Music Hours online". TuneIn. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  41. ^ "Friday's Top 15 at 5:00 Countdown". KANW. January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  42. ^ "Radio Lobo 97.7/94.7". Albuquerque. January 1, 1970. Retrieved January 18, 2015.