New Mexico is a state of the Southwest United States. The state has music traditions dating back to the ancient Anasazi and Pueblo people, Navajo, Apache, and the Spanish Santa Fe de Nuevo México; these old traditions are found in both their original folk forms and as a modern folk genre known as New Mexico music. In the 1940s town of Clovis was home to the Norman Petty Studios, where Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Waylon Jennings recorded. Perhaps the first well-known group hailing from New Mexico was The Fireballs scoring a #1 Hot 100 hit in 1963 called "Sugar Shack". Native American rock group Xit were signed and recorded Plight of the Redman (1972) and Silent Warrior (1973) for a subsidiary of Motown Records, Rare Earth Records. During the 1970s and 80s, New Mexico musicians Al Hurricane and Al Hurricane, Jr. became recognized on the nationally syndicated Val De La O Show.
The English-language state song of New Mexico is "O Fair New Mexico", adopted by the state legislature in 1917. In 1971, "Así es Nuevo México" was adopted as the Spanish-language state song. In 1989, the legislature adopted "Land of Enchantment" by Michael Martin Murphey as the official state ballad; and in 1995, the legislature adopted "New Mexico - Mi Lindo Nuevo México" by Pablo Mares as the state's official bilingual state song.
New Mexico's heritage studies and inquiries into the unique past of the area reveal that the violin was introduced into New Mexico long before Europeans brought polka and other folk forms to the east coast; several studies confirm the long history of violin playing in New Mexico. The New Mexico Musical Heritage Project continues to play the music of early New Mexico, while learning the violin building techniques used in the pueblos to convert the natives through music.
The first inhabitants of New Mexico were Native Americans, followed by Spaniards in the sixteenth century. In 1821 the land was ceded to Mexico, and in 1848 it became a territory of the United States. The cultures of each of these groups has influenced the music of New Mexico in unique ways.
The New Mexico Philharmonic continues the long tradition of the now defunct New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, who had been performing since 1932. Other Classical music institutions in the state include the Taos School of Music, the Santa Fe Community Orchestra and the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
New Mexico's country music heritage includes Red River's Michael Martin Murphey, a cowboy singer and popular local attraction, as well as the Old West town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The town of Ruidoso is home to the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.Glen Campbell started his career by playing guitar with his uncle in Albuquerque bars. More recently a country/Americana duo Handsome Family moved from Chicago to Albuquerque, making it their home.
In 2002, a song called "New Slang" was heard on TV commercials across the country. The group was The Shins, which became a perennial favorite among indie folk/pop/rock fans worldwide. The next international success came when a young Santa Fe and Albuquerque resident Zach Condon formed an ethno/world influenced band called Beirut.
The city of Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to the Santa Fe International Festival of New Music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Santa Fe Opera. Taos is home to the Taos Solar Music Festival. June is the month for many festivals in New Mexico. Besides Taos Solar Music Festival at the end of June, there is Southwest Roots Music Festival, also called the Thirsty Ear Music Festival that takes place in the middle of June just outside Santa Fe at the famous western movie set. Festival features well-known artists representing the roots of folk, blues, bluegrass, and world music.
The University of New Mexico's John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium has been and continues to be one of the central contemporary music events in the US Southwest. The symposium began in 1972 when UNM Music Professor William Wood invited his former teacher, Norman Lockwood, to the campus, where his compositions were performed, along with the works of UNM music composition students. In 1999, the symposium was renamed the John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium. The symposium is now presented jointly by the John Donald Robb Musical Trust and the UNM Department of Music. The Symposium brings international composers and performers to the University of New Mexico campus for four to six long days of concerts, seminars, masterclasses, and public talks. The numerous concerts and events are all made free to the public, making the Symposium an inclusive listening opportunity that welcomes in audiences and serves them entirely new sonic experiences, as well as showcasing the talents of UNM faculty and students, alongside national and international guest artists. Guest composers have included Robert Ashley, Milton Babbitt, Anthony Braxton, Martin Bresnick, John Cage, Raven Chacon, Chen Yi, Michael Colgrass, George Crumb, Julio Estrada, Lukas Foss, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Ernst Krenek, Libby Larson, Lei Liang, John Lewis, Thea Musgrave, Pauline Oliveros, Hilda Paredes, Vincent Persichetti, Roger Reynolds, Ned Rorem, Maria Schneider, Gunther Schuller, Cecil Taylor, James Tenney, Joan Tower, Christian Wolff. Directors of the Symposium include: Christopher Shultis, Peter Gilbert, and Karola Obermüller.
Another festival in New Mexico is Globalquerque taking place at the end of every September since 2005 at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. It features music from all continents (folk/ethno/pop) as well as some Native American and Hispanic acts.
In Las Cruces, Starbucks coffee shop is known for hosting an open mic on Friday or Sunday nights. Popular artists at these venues include the group: "Raw Material," as well as Clay King, a local guitar player, Codeword Zefferina, and Jon Paz, a local multi-instrumentalist.
Red River in Northern New Mexico has a Bluesfest in early June and Larry Joe Taylor's Music Festival and Chili Cookoff featuring well-known songwriters such as Richard Leigh, Keith Sykes, Joe Ely and Michael Hearn.
In Taos, the Taos Inn host nightly music performances.
Musicians and bands associated with New Mexico include: