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Roberto Martínez (1929-2013): Appreciating a Musical Life

Roberto Martínez and his son Lorenzo Martínez. Photo courtesy of Tom Pich.

Roberto Martínez and his son Lorenzo Martínez.
Photo courtesy of Tom Pich.

Roberto Martínez (1929-2013) was a prominent musician, composer, and standard bearer of northern New Mexican-southern Coloradan musical tradition. He was born in the heartland of New Mexico’s 400-year-old Hispanic community, in the village of Mora, and he lived most of his life in Albuquerque with his wife Ramona and his musically talented children. Roberto was the mainstay of the prominent New Mexican ensemble Los Reyes de Albuquerque, the founder of the regional record label Minority Owned Record Enterprises (M.O.R.E.), and the author of regionally prominent corridos (narrative ballads) that instilled cultural pride and the struggle for social justice.  He performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on several occasions, he toured nationally with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and he received the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National heritage Fellowship. Today, the M.O.R.E. collection is part of the Smithsonian Folkways family of historic record labels, part of the national museum’s permanent holdings.

Read an appreciation of Roberto Martínez by Smithsonian Folkways Director and Curator Daniel Sheehy.

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