The culture of Southwest can not only be seen in the enchanting landscapes, but heard in the sounds on radio. New Mexico music has slowly become a genre of its own and stays true to the roots of where it came from.
“The first songs that came to the Americas were romances,” said Enrique Lamadrid, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Spanish from the University of New Mexico. “There are also canciones (songs) that came over with the original settlers, the original explorers.”
Long before there was social media or newscasts informing the public, Spanish Music in the form of ballads, or corridos in Spanish was the way to find out what was going on.
“You can talk all day about the corrido and how important it is to the people, to the popular imagination in a time when there might not be any newspapers, if there’s a war going on and the newspapers are shut down,” added Lamadrid.
The tradition of the corrido is still carried on to this day, even here in New Mexico. Ballads are still being written about current events.
“When something big happens like the prison riot in Santa Fe,” said Lamadrid. “It was 1980, it was so tragic, it was so shocking that this could happen in our prison system that, there were a good six or eight corridos that I know about that were written about that and probably the best distributed ones were by Al Hurricane.”
Musical artists like Al Hurricane are not only responsible for carrying on the traditions of the old music, but transforming it into a modern day sound which is keeping it alive in New Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
“The best way to quote unquote preserve them is to have your kids learn enough Spanish to appreciate these traditions and if it’s Saturday and everyone is at home, leave them on your stereo,” said Lamadrid. “Let the kids listen to them.”