“Premio Hilos Culturales” Awards will honor folk artists


jenny wells vincent

Each year, Hilos Culturales recognizes folk artists who have excelled in the decades-old music and dance traditions of the upper Río Grande region. Premio Hilos Culturales 2015 recipients will be awarded Life Time Achievement Awards at the Fandango Alamosa, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, in the Adams State University Student Union Building Banquet Rooms. Tickets for Fandango Alamosa, featuring music by Southwest Musicians, are $10 and may be purchased at Papers of Distinction and SLV Federal bank in Alamosa and Ventero Press in San Luis.

Award recipients will include Jenny Wells Vincent, San Cristóbal, N.M.; Frank McCulloch, Albuquerque, N.M.; and San Luis Valley musician, Andy Manzanares, Los Fuertes.

Vincent, a long-time musician and folk music practitioner, played a vital role in making connections across cultures with student and adult audiences. Throughout her musical career, Vincent has been recognized for her passion of promoting the Spanish folk songs and dances of New Mexico and the Southwest.

Her early exposure to the World's folk music moved her to specialize in non-English songs, particularly those in Spanish. Her northern New Mexico home in San Cristóbal offered the perfect setting for Vincent's infusion of Hispano folk songs and native Pueblo folklore roots which she incorporated into her piano and accordion repertoire. Beginning at the National Folk Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, Vincent began a fascinating career that highlighted a legacy of bilingual traditions of the Americas. She also received invitations to perform at popular folk festival venues such as Fox Hollow, New York and Idyllwild in southern California.

Specializing in her bilingual repertoire, Vincent made her first recording in 1956. Her musical groups, Trío de Taos and the Jenny Vincent Trio, provided their signature blend of international folk songs in addition to regional polkas, valses and western ballads. She has been highly recognized throughout the Río Grande region for her workshops for teachers in bilingual education programs at all teaching levels.

Author, Craig Smith, through personal interviews, recorded Vincent's life in folk music and activism in his book, "Sing My Whole Life Long," highlighting her commitment of recording and preserving the rich legacy of Spanish-language folk songs and dance tunes of the Southwest; which remains one of her signature accomplishments. Vincent is the recipient of the New Mexico Governor's Award in the Arts.

Frank McCulloch

McCulloch, born in Gallup, New Mexico, recalls growing up hearing the music of Mexican and regional New Mexican roots. He began playing this music in the 50s. Through the years, McCulloch has refined his folk music style and equally expanded his song repertoire. In the 60s, he was invited to record several dozen of these songs (Canciones del Pasado) as part of the John Donald Robb Library Collection at the University of New Mexico.

McCulloch would later team with musicians Melody Mock and Luis Campos to form the musical trío, Frank McCulloch y sus Amigos. Through the years, they have recorded six CD's and have enjoyed much notoriety performing annually at Nuestra Música concerts at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, Casa San Ysidro in Corrales and numerous university and museum functions around New Mexico. Most recently, McCulloch has been featured at the Lifeways Presentations sponsored by Title V at Adams State University with solo performances at Leon Memorial and Carson Auditorium.

McCulloch's musical ambitions have been complemented with his love for painting and he has been recognized as one of New Mexico's celebrated landscape artists. He has received several honors, including the Governor's Award in the Arts and the Albuquerque Arts Alliance Bravo Award for Artist of the Year. His vitality has distinguished McCulloch not only as an innovative artist, but also as a teacher, mentor and friend for the visual and performing arts community.

Andy Manzanares

Manzanares, a native of Amalia, New Mexico, a small farming community, grew up listening to the gentle sounds of melodic piezas that he learned to appreciate and later learned to perfect as a musician. He played an old Epiphone guitar that his brother Frank Maes, bought for him at age eight. After leaving school, Manzanares joined his brother's swing band…Los Maes', where they played on the road from El Paso, Texas to Laramie, Wyoming throughout the 50s. Later, while attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, he studied under such accomplished guitarists as Vicente Saucedo of México, and Ramón Hernández of Taos, New Mexico.

In the 80s, Manzanares formed a family group, La Familia Manzanares, that included his daughters, Miriam, Angela and Kayleen, son Michael and cousin Frankie Vigil. They performed valses, polkas, La Cuna, La Marcha de los Novios and La Entriega at local weddings and anniversaries throughout EL Valle de San Luis. These and other social music and dance favorites bring to mind the tunes and versos (verses) that Manzanares fondly recalls being played in his youth at the Amalia schoolhouse dances where his eventual mentors, Señor Mike Arellano, guitarist, and Señor Benjamín Arellano, violinist, played and sang throughout the evening, which often times stretched into the night. "I learned from these musicians," Manzanares said. "I am still playing Inditas and La Varsoviana exactly how they taught me."

As La Familia Manzanares' repertoire and popularity grew, their performance invitations ranged from the Taylor Museum in Colorado Springs, the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, the Plaza de los Leones Festival in Walsenburg to Los Musicos del Valle de San Luis Concert on the Adams State University campus. Amongst family and his home community, Manzanares and his wife, Mary Jo, receive invitations to lead the procession of La Marcha de Los Novios at local weddings. Manzanares also continues his love for music as a long time member of the church choir for the Sangre de Cristo Parish in San Luis.