Nacha Mendez grew up in the tiny border town of La Union, in southern New Mexico, where she began singing and playing the guitar at an early age. She learned traditional Ranchera canción from her grandmother and performed in border towns near El Paso with her cousins, the Black Brothers, sons of ex-Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black. She went on to study classical voice and electronic music at New Mexico State University before moving to New York City, where she studied flamenco guitar with Manuel Granados of the Music Conservatory of Barcelona, Spain. In the early ’90s, she was a principal singer in Robert Ashley’s opera company, touring Europe and Japan and translated the libretto for Ashley's opera Now Eleanor’s Idea. She performed trouser roles in three of his operas throughout Japan, at the Avignon Music Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Strasbourg, France, Graz, Austria, and Berlin. Nacha has also collaborated with celebrated composer Steve Peters who produced “Bodega de Amor” and “Volando.” “My Burning Skin to Sleep,” a song on the 2004 CD release Shelter by Steve Peters and distributed by the Cold Blue Label features the voice of Nacha Mendez. Her recordings include “Slowly Rising” (as Dueto Le Momo), and “Blue Silence,” “Bodega de Amor,” and “Volando” (as Nacha Mendez). Since 1990, she has worked on several projects with Steve Peters and has collaborated with composer Raven Chacon, writer Melody Sumner Carnahan, visual artist Harmony Hammond, filmmaker Catherine Gund, and Producer/Director Daresha Kyi.
Mendez/Cordero received a National Endowment for the Arts Award and a fellowship from Mutable Music in New York. In February 2011, she was honored by the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women Artists. She was voted Best Female vocalist in Santa Fe, New Mexico in both 2009 and 2010. Voted Best Family Friendly Entertainer Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance 2012 Pride Alliance Awards and in 2013 she was awarded the Best Latin Production at the New Mexico Music Awards. She received a New Mexico Platinum Music Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. She performs under her grandmother’s name, Nacha Mendez, touring regionally with her band, playing her original, eclectic pan-Latin-style songs. She also paints and sculpts and exhibits her work in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
THE NACHA MENDEZ MUSIC SCHOLARSHIP
For New Mexican Girls Of Color
This summer Margarita Cordero, who performs as "Nacha Mendez," is initiating the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of Color. (See statement below) Fundraising begins now, and the first scholarships will be awarded in January 2022. Two awards will be given to girls ages 8-15. The scholarships will be unrestricted so that funds can be applied where the need is greatest—music lessons, instrument purchase, travel expenses, or any cost that is essential to supporting access to learning.
We've set an ambitious goal of $10,000 for this campaign in order to finance the start-up of the scholarship program. Donations to The Start-Up Campaign will support scholarship funds, fundraising efforts, and a year-end budget that puts us in a good position to initiate the second round of scholarships.
The scholarship program will launch this fall with a nomination process involving music teachers and music programs in Northern New Mexico. Nominated girls will submit applications for review, and two recipients will be awarded in January 2022. Pending financial support, the second round of scholarships—to be awarded in September 2022—will expand both the number of scholarships given and the financial award amount and will be open to girls in all of New Mexico.
Margarita Cordero has assembled a panel of musicians and music industry experts to form the Scholarship Committee. Committee members are: Raven Chacon, Rafael Herrera, Carla Kountoupes, Mary Madigan, and Melanie Monsour.
The Nacha Mendez Scholarship Fund was established this spring with thanks to fiscal sponsor the New Mexico Music Commission Foundation. Donations made to the scholarship fund are tax deductible.
(Details about the scholarship application process will be available in August.)