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New Mexico State University

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State historian and folk music singer to lecture and perform at NMSU

As part of Hispanic Heritage month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, the State of New Mexico’s deputy historian, Rob Martinez, will visit New Mexico State University to give a lecture on and musical performance of northern New Mexico musical traditions on Sept. 27 in Domenici Hall’s Yates Auditorium from 5:30-7 p.m.


Man in office
Rob Martinez is the deputy historian for the State of New Mexico and one of the founders of Los Reyes de Albuquerque. (Photo from the Office of the State Historian.)

The lecture and performance are part of a Southwest Border Cultures Institute grant awarded by the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. Department of Anthropology Professor Lois Stanford is one of the organizers of the event.

“The Hispanic musical traditions of New Mexico reflect the long history of cultural diversity and exchange between different ethnic groups, including indigenous peoples, Spaniards, Mexican and Anglo settlers,” she said. “Throughout the early 20th century, New Mexico musicians continued performing, reproducing traditional New Mexico music at the same time that they also incorporated música norteña and conjuntos from Tejano musical traditions.”

In the 1960s and ‘70s in the U.S., these musical genres merged to create the onda nueva or new wave of Latino music. One of the primary groups responsible for popularizing this new genre was Los Reyes de Albuquerque, formed in 1962. Martinez and his father, Roberto Sr., were among the founders of this group.

“Los Reyes de Albuquerque was recognized for blending the mariachi, ranchera and corridas with traditional New Mexican music,” Stanford said. “For 50 years, Los Reyes de Albuquerque performed all of the Southwest and the United States, including the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in 1985 and 1991.”

The group also performed at the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Awards, as well as at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to his musical roots, Martinez Jr. is well versed in Latin American, specifically New Mexican, history, having earned his master’s in Latin American history from the University of New Mexico prior to becoming the state’s deputy historian.

Apart from his duties as a government official and a teacher, researcher and lecturer, Martinez Jr. continues the legacy established by Los Reyes de Albuquerque. His father died in 2013 but Martinez Jr. and his brother, Lorenzo, continue to perform throughout New Mexico.

“In this public lecture, Rob will present a historical overview of the rich Hispanic musical traditions of northern New Mexico, enhanced by his performance of different musical genres, from the alabado, traditional Spanish hymn, to the Mexican corrida,” Stanford said.

This lecture presents a unique opportunity to learn how different cultures have influenced New Mexico’s musical heritage, shaping the cultural heritage commemorated during Hispanic Heritage month, Stanford said.

The lecture and presentation are free and open to the public.