UNM Holds Rare Recording of State Spanish Song
June 07, 2011
Categories: Inside UNM
Did you know New Mexico has a state Spanish song? In 1971 the New Mexico State Legislature formally adopted "Asi es Nuevo Mejico" as our state Spanish song. The song is fairly well known in the state, but less is known about the composer Amadeo Lucero.
A teacher, musician, composer and poet, Lucero was born in Dixon, New Mexico, on April 1, 1900, the son of Francisco and Inez Lucero. His father was a produce farmer, earning $150 a month and supporting a family of six. Early on Lucero wanted to educate his people and attended the Dixon Presbyterian Mission School and Menaul Boy's School in Albuquerque. He also sang in the Allison-James School Choir of Santa Fe and belonged to the 4-H Club.
In 1918 an older brother got him a trumpet and he learned to read and write music. Later he also learned to play the guitar. He played in the Menaul Band and with dance bands and orchestras across Northern New Mexico.
Lucero played football at Menaul and worked as a migrant laborer in Colorado. He also loved prospecting for minerals and rare rocks and was an avid deer hunter. He used to trade the fruit from his land for his favorite foods from his neighbors. Lucero married Frances Miera, of Velarde, and they raised five sons and three daughters.
Lucero began teaching elementary school in 1923, earning $75 a month. He served for 37 years in the rural schools of Northern New Mexico - in Rinconada, Ojo Sarco, Cordova, Velarde, Chamita, Hernandez, Medenales, Coyote, Rio Puerco and Canjilon. He also helped organized the boy scouts in Dixon. When Lucero had a little extra money or time, he took summer classes at UNM and New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas. Later he also taught classes in the UNM Bilingual Program and was praised widely by educators for his promotion of bilingual and multicultural education in the state. He retired from teaching in 1960.
Lucero wrote "Así Es Nuevo Mejico" in 1961 while watching over his dying mother. He filed it away and his family resurrected the song in 1970, along with about a 100 other creations. In 1971 he was working as a Senate doorman for $15 a day and presented the song to the New Mexico Legislature. Roberto Mondragon and Roberto Martinez and Los Reyes de Albuquerque recorded it for him on the MORE label (Minority Oriented Recording Enterprises, 1971). They played it for the Legislators and they loved it, adopting it as the official state Spanish song that same year.
Listen to Lucero Singing "Asi Es Nuevo Mejico"
Although a bill was passed in the Legislature to give Lucero a $100 a month pension for use of his song, he had written it out of love for New Mexico and voluntarily donated it to the state. When he used to sell a few of the new records at the Spanish Village at the State Fair to help supplement his income, he would tell people he had composed his song because nobody else had bothered to write a song in Spanish for New Mexico.
He did it for everyone to enjoy - as he wrote in the song - because Hispanos, Indians, Blacks, and Anglos are all equal - and are all hijos (sons) of New Mexico. It took him a long time to find just the right words to bring out the beauty of New Mexico but he did and was pleased with the song. He wrote a similar English song about the state and also translated "America the Beautiful" to Spanish. He loved his country and visited every state in the Union except Minnesota and the Dakotas.
In his final years, Lucero traveled around the state and toured many schools. Some of his happiest moments were playing and singing his song with children who had learned the song in their classes. He also appeared on KNME singing and talking about New Mexico. Highlands University granted him an Honorary Doctorate in Musical Arts in 1975. He was active in the Martineztown Senior Center and wrote articles for "El Hispano" newspaper. He died on August 20, 1987 in Albuquerque and was buried at the Presbyterian Cemetery in Dixon. He wanted every boy and girl to sing his song and knew it would be around a long time after he was gone - how right he was.
Center for Southwest Research
The Center for Southwest Research, at the University of New Mexico Library, Albuquerque, has a rare recording of Lucero himself singing "Así es Nuevo Mejico," the New Mexico state Spanish song. Fortunately, in 1978, Charlemaud Curtis, who was then the Associate Director of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music, taped Lucero during a live performance at KNME - is the only known recording of him singing his composition.
The Lucero recording is part of the Charlemaud Curtis Collection of Southwestern Music, Interviews and Programs, 1972-1987, Mss 847 BC. The Curtis Collection is one of over thirty collections within the CSWR Robb Archive dealing with Native American, Hispanic, Mexican, African American and Anglo American music of New Mexico and the Southwest.
The inventories to these music collections and to over 800 other archival collections at the CSWR are available via the Rocky Mountain Online Archive (RMOA), also operated by the CSWR - http://rmoa.unm.edu/ In addition, the RMOA has finding guides to archival collections from twenty-eight other institutions in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.
The recording of Lucero's State Spanish song, along with a photo of him and the song text is available on the New Mexico Digital Collection (NMDC) maintained by the CSWR - http://econtent.unm.edu/ The NMDC features over 80,000 images, recordings and film footage from the CSWR archives as well as from other affiliated institutions around the state.
The CSWR, located inside of Zimmerman Library, is open to the public and welcomes researchers. For more information see our main website at - http://elibrary.unm.edu/cswr/
Article by Nancy Brown Martinez, CSWR, adapted from notes from the Amadeo Lucero family and New Mexico newspaper articles about Lucero over the decades. Photo, recording and words used with permission of the Lucero family.
"Así es Nuevo Mejico," by Amadeo Lucero (Asi es Nuevo Mexico)
Un canto que traigo muy dentro del alma
Lo canto a mi estado, mi tierra natal
De flores dorada, mi tierra encantada
De lindas mujeres, que no tiene igual
CORO: Asi es Nuevo Mejico
Así es esta tierra del sol
De tierras y valles, de tierras frutales
Así es Nuevo Mejico
El negro, el hispano, el anglo, el indio
Todos son tus hijos, todos por igual
Tus pueblos y aldeas, mi tierra encantada
De lindas mujeres que no tiene igual
El río del norte, que es el Rio Grande,
Sus aguas corrientes, fluyen hasta el mar
Y riegan tus campos, mi tierra encantada
De lindas mujeres que no tiene igual
Tus campos se visten de flores de Mayo
De lindos colores que Dios los dotó
Tus pájaros cantan, mi tierra encantada.
Sus trinos de amores al ser celestial
Mi tierra encantada de historia bañada,
tan linda, tan bella, sin comparación.
Te rindo homenaje, te rindo cariño,
Soldado valiente, te rinde su amor.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia also has a side by side translation here.