Skip to main content

Frank McCulloch Collection of Spanish New Mexican, Mexican and American Music

Identifier: MSS-956-BC

Scope and Content

Beginning in 2015, Frank McCulloch, Jr. began donating CDs with his recordings to the Center for Southwest Research, UNM Library. Included also is a copy of Frank’s personal notebook of over 200 songs and their lyrics collected from 1959-2015. These CDs have some of his favorites. He has added his own Bilingual lyrics to some of them. The CDs have songs recorded live in his studio, with Frank singing solo or Frank accompanied by his musical companions. Several are commercial albums put out by McCulloch and Sus Amigos, from Albuquerque. The amigos are McCulloch, on guitar, Luis Campos, on guitar, and Melody Mock, on violin. Jack Loeffler taped the trio in Frank’s art studio between 2006 and 2015. The trio performs annually at Nuestra Musica concerts at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, Casa San Ysidro in Corrales, at numerous university and museum functions around New Mexico, and at local cafes.

The collection also contains articles about McCulloch’s teaching years, music events, landscape painting shows and his views and philosophy. Included also are examples of his contributions to other regional publications. It also has articles and a book that his father wrote, background on the family’s history, and photographs of his ancestors, Frank and his own family, and his musical associates.

McCulloch’s multicultural heritage - Hispanic, French, Irish - has influenced his choice of music. Like his paintings and poetry, many of his songs also reflect New Mexico’s history, culture and land. As a child he heard the Spanish folk music of New Mexico and Mexico. He also learned of Irish and American tunes through his father. He also studied and lived in Mexico. McCulloch wants to preserve and teach la musica de la gente, the music of the people, so it won’t be lost. Playing and singing since the 1950s, he prefers songs with emotion and meaning for the everyday man, be they about love, work or injustice. Some of the pieces in the collection date to sixteenth century Spain. He sings them like the old settlers of New Mexico would have done them.

The range of music that Frank and the group sing and play is varied. Among them are a New Mexico lullaby from Los Pastores; a tragic love song from Mexico; an Irish war protest tune; and stanzas about homeless bums and hobos suffering during the American Great Depression of the 1930s. The group also added some more contemporary renditions, such as Borderline, about Mexican immigration and Dance Me to the End of Love, in honor of Jewish musicians forced to play for their Nazi German persecutors during the Holocaust. There are also tunes about injustice and racism toward African Americans in the United States and Frank’s tribute to Martin Luther King. Another tract features Lola, composed by E. A. Tony Mares, with music by Cipriano Vigil. It was Mares' recollection of a madam from Old Town Albuquerque and her nostalgia for the community of the past. Frank also composed a corrido about an incident that happened in the history of his family and a memory song about a friend. He also wrote a song based on a poem by A.E. Housman.

It is interesting that McCulloch, Jr. also crossed paths with John Donald Robb. By the early 1960s McCulloch was playing with music groups in Albuquerque, as an early newspaper clipping in the collection attests. John Donald Robb, Dean of the College of Arts, UNM, was taping music across the state in those years. He met young McCulloch in Albuquerque and recorded about forty five of his folk songs in 1964-1965, which are in the Robb Collection at the CSWR. These can be heard on the New Mexico Digital Collection ( under the CSWR section for John Donald Robb Field Recordings. Also included there are the melodies and the words to McCulloch’s songs, as transcribed by Robb and his students. These McCulloch songs recorded by Robb are mostly in Spanish but others are in English. Some of these same songs reappear in the CDs McCulloch gave the CSWR in 2015 and 2016. He is likely the only musician still living that Robb interviewed in his day. Today McCulloch works with the Robb Musical Trust on various projects to promote New Mexico music and the Robb archive.

The collection also contains various awards given to McCulloch for his outstanding art and music, posters for programs he starred in or participated in, and articles about him. For example, in 1981 he exhibited his paintings in the New Mexico Governor’s Gallery in the State capital. The show catalog is in the collection. He also exhibited there in 2001. That same year the Dartmouth Street Gallery, in Albuquerque, featured his work and that of twenty of his students. His life and career are portrayed well in a 2002 New Mexico Highlands University tribute to him as their distinguished alumnus. Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado, awarded him the Premio Hilos Culturales during his folk song concert there in 2015. The award is in the collection. In addition, Frank donated a book with his thoughts and poetry assembled over the years. There is also a new edition of the book his father, Frank McCulloch, Sr., wrote on Governor Albino Perez and the 1837 Revolt in New Mexico, based on material from a descendant of Perez. This is truly an interesting and priceless collection and is but a small part of the wonderful life of this New Mexico Renaissance man.

Forms part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • 1960-2019
  • Majority of material found within 2000-2017

Language of Materials

English Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Frank McCulloch, Jr. is a well-known New Mexico teacher, painter, folk singer, guitarist and poet. He was born in Gallup in 1930 and raised in Albuquerque. His mother came from Hispanic West Las Vegas, New Mexico, and his Irish father was from Iowa. His family was Catholic on both sides. His father operated Harvey House hotels in Gallup and Las Vegas. As a boy, Frank learned to draw, paint, sing, and write poetry - all talents he carries on today. As a young man he picked up the guitar. And he learned to love the people, cultures, and lands of New Mexico. Later on, hoping to find a job, he studied biology and chemistry at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, graduating with a BA in 1953. He got his MA in biology from New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, in 1955. His did some doctoral work and teaching in biology at Princeton. He worked his way through college doing photos for weddings, acting, painting and singing. In 1965 he also earned a MFA from the Instituto de San Miguel de Allende, part of the Universidad de Guanajuato. While there Frank even rode horses as a Mexican charro and learned more Mexican songs.

In the 1950s and 1960s McCulloch taught biology at Highland High School in Albuquerque. But he really want to paint and later switched to teaching art at the school, retiring in 1985. He and his high school students drew some of their inspiration from the Tamarind Institute at UNM. Many of his students have gone on to be leading artisans today. In between times, McCulloch studied and taught art on the side at UNM and Southern Methodist University and sang and played his guitar at area events. His prized paintings show the influence, experience, sense of place, color and emotion of New Mexico’s history, culture and environment. They are found in many galleries and in the collections of the Albuquerque Museum, National Hispanic Culture Center, UNM Art Museum, Jonson Gallery, New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and the Roswell Museum of Art, as well as in other institutions in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mexico, Canada, Italy and Egypt. Over the years McCulloch has received countless awards for his art and music. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word retired and still works every day in his art studio in downtown Albuquerque, attends UNM art classes, and will sing at the drop of a hat.


1 box, 20 CDS


The collection consists of recordings of songs performed by Frank McCulloch, Jr. or Frank and his musical groups between 2008 and 2019. Some are original works while others are renditions of well-known songs from New Mexico, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England, and the United States. In addition, the collection contains material about McCulloch’s landscape paintings, teaching career, family history and photographs.

Related Material

John Donald Robb Field Recordings Center for Southwest Research, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Enrique Lamadrid Collection of Folk Songs, Oral Histories and Photographic Projects, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Jenny Wells Vincent Recordings, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Juan S. Lucero and Lora L. Chavez Collection of New Mexico Hispanic Religious and Traditional Songs, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.
Finding aid of Frank McCulloch Collection of Spanish New Mexican, Mexican and American Music, 1960-2019
© 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131