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Juan S. Lucero and Lora L. Chavez Collection of New Mexico Hispanic Religious and Traditional Songs

Identifier: MU-2

Scope and Content

The Juan S. Lucero Collection of New Mexico Hispanic Religious and Traditional Songs consists of recordings of 58 songs, many of which are original compositions by Lucero. Also included are seven old traditional New Mexico folk songs from the Torreon area. The songs recorded here were performed by Lucero or by Lucero and his relatives. The collection includes Spanish alabanzas or songs of praise, two corridos, several romances, a valse, an indita and two polkas.

The collection is a testament of one person’s life and journey through the last five decades. Juan wrote songs about his Catholic faith, New Mexico Hispanic history and traditions, personal experiences, and the people and places he had known and loved over the years. The songs deal with local religious themes like Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Lourdes (France), Garabandal, a shrine in Spain, two Chimayo pilgrimages, the saints, angels and Christmas. Some refer to the history of and life in Torrance County, Abo, Estancia, Manzano, Torreon, Tinaja, Chilili, Punta de Agua and the Manzano Mountains.

There are songs about the Rio Grande, the San Marcial flood, Grants, the mines of Milan, San Rafael, San Fidel and the wonders of New Mexico. Others deal with love, life, death, family, marriage and education. One is about the death of a soldier in the Vietnam War and another is about being a paratrooper and dying in World War II. There are also songs about the girl from Albuquerque, Toney Anaya’s campaign for Governor of New Mexico and Reies Lopez Tijerina and the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse raid. The original 1993 donation from the Luceros consisted of two reels of songs, now reformatted to two CDs. Also included with the first collection was a copy of a guide book to accompany the songs that was written by Lucero and his daughter, Lora Lucero Chavez – entitled Canciones and Alabanzas de Juan Sebedeo Lucero y Otero, 1993. It includes the lyrics for some of the recordings and also has lyrics for other songs that were not recorded. In addition, Juan and Lora added commentaries in the book to explain many of the people, places and events in the songs, who is singing them, and some photographs. They also provided a list of the songs by type. In 2008 Juan and Lora added two more CDs to this collection – one a re issuing of the family’s 1970s recording of Soy Manito and a new 2006 CD entitled Himnos al Señor. Included in the second accession is a guide for the 2006 Himnos CD, with Spanish and English lyrics for some of the songs and commentaries about them. There is also a copy of Juan Lucero’s autobiography.

The inventory was compiled in cooperation with the Luceros. Professor Enrique Lamadrid assisted in the acquisition of this collection. The collection is part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • 1950-2008


Language of Materials


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 publications or distribution.

Biography / History

Juan Sebedeo Lucero y Otero lives in Torreon, New Mexico. He published his autobiography in 2006. In the 1970s and 1980s he was a popular singer and composer. He also collected music, wrote short stories and poetry, and did translation work. Lucero was born in El Torreon in 1939. In 1945 his family moved to nearby Mountainair. He went to school there until the seventh grade and did not attend high school but did receive his high school diploma’s equivalent.

Juan’s parents had taught him to be devoted to his Catholic faith and he learned many things about religion and the Bible. Juan’s older brother, Jose, taught the boy to play the guitar. Juan had a natural talent for playing and singing. At age 12, he joined a band headed by Antonio Chavez, from Willard. They played music at fiestas and weddings in Mountainair and Central New Mexico.

At age 15, Juan and his family left New Mexico to find farm work in California. But before he left New Mexico, he composed A Mis Queridos Amigos, as a farewell corrrido to the beloved friends and places he left behind. It was one of the first musical tales he composed about his family, faith and culture. Many of his later songs also deal with his faith, perceptions and emotions. For a few years he was not able to play as his family traveled around as migrant farm workers (manitos).

At age 17, Juan enlisted in the army as a paratrooper and served for five and a half years in the U.S and Germany. After the army, Juan returned to Albuquerque, where he met Clorinda Aragon, from Grants, New Mexico. In 1962 they were married at Santa Ana Church, in Albuquerque. Juan joined his cousin’s band, the Starlights. That band played popular rock ‘n roll tunes around town for the next two decades. As Juan and Clorinda’s family grew, they taught their children to sing and dance.

Juan Lucero believed strongly in promoting Hispanic culture and helping others learn Spanish. He composed songs to keep the old Spanish traditions of faith and family alive for the next generation. In the early 1970’s Juan and Clorinda formed a musical group called Juanito Lucero y Las Muñequitas (Juanito and The Little Dolls), composed of five of their children. With Lucero on the guitar and an uncle, Juan A. Lucero, on the accordion, four daughters and one son (Juanito) performed traditional New Mexican and Mexican songs and dances at local schools, universities, churches, state fairs, and other community events in New Mexico. Clorinda made wonderful outfits for the little dolls, Bonnie, Elisa, Maria and the youngest was Lora.

By 1974, Juan recorded some of their songs and produced an album. Their album Soy Manito, titled after another of Juan’s songs, played on all the New Mexico Spanish radio stations. Soy Manito and A Mis Queridos Amigos were used in bilingual public school programs across the state. Later the Luceros moved to a little ranch near El Torreon. Juan called it el Rancho de la Divina Providencia. As the children grew up, the group disbanded and Juan wrote and sang less often.

In the 1970s, Juan was active in the Penitentes and he and his family participated in many Holy Week activities. In 1987, after four years of religious preparation, Juan was ordained a deacon of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. He assisted with services in the Catholic churches in the Estancia Valley. He loved to sing with the church choir. Juan continues to be very devoted to his faith and Spanish traditions. By 1991 Juan was working as staff assistant to Representative Bill Richardson.

In the Spring of 1993, his daughter Lora was a student in foreign Languages at UNM and in need of a topic for her senior project. Juan and Lora decided to write a self-published book called - Canciones y Alabanzas de Juan Sebedeo Lucero y Otero (original of her book at ZIM CSWR M1629.7 N57 L8 1993, copy in this collection). It provides additional valuable information about Lucero and the texts and background for the songs in this collection. It also contains family information and photographs. Together they wrote down the words, added their comments and recorded some of the music he had written and performed through the years. And they did it all in Spanish. In so doing, both Juan and Lora have helped preserve the Spanish language, music and history of New Mexico. An article about Juan S. Lucero, by Carmella M. Padilla, appeared in New Mexico Magazine, January 1996. In 2000, Juan translated into Spanish the book by Joseph J. Ruiz, entitled The Little Ghost Who Wouldn’t Go Away, by Sunstone Press, which is at UNM Library. About 2006, Juan wrote and published his autobiography, which is included in this collection.

Source: The material in this collection biography and scope and content about Lucero was translated and drawn from the original book in Spanish by Lora L. Chavez, Canciones and Alabanzas de Juan Sebedeo Lucero y Otero. Our appreciation to Enrique Lamadrid for helping secure this collection. It is part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music, CSWR.


1 box (.38 cu. ft.)


This is a collection of songs composed by Juan Sebedeo Lucero, along with a few other traditional New Mexico songs, sung by Lucero and family members. Included are alabanzas or songs of praise, corridos, romances, rancheros and samples of a few other song types such as an indita, polka and a waltz.

Related Archival Material

Frank McCulloch Collection of Spanish New Mexican, Mexican and American Music. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Richard B. Stark Collection of New Mexico Religious Songs, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico John Donald Robb Field Recordings, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Edwin Berry Oral History Interviews and Songs, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Frank V. Mares and Bruna Valencia Mares “No Hay Cosa Como La Madre” recording and associated material. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Ned Sublette Collection of New Mexico Country Western and Hispanic Folk Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico James B. Wright Collection of Southwestern Native American and Hispanic Music, Interviews and Literary ProgramsCenter for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie Collection of Northern New Mexico Hispanic Music, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Ruben Cobos Collection of Southwestern Folklore and Folk Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Charlemaud Curtis Collection of Southwestern Music, Interviews and Programs Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Enrique Lamadrid Collection of Folk Songs, Oral Histories and Photographic Projects Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Originals housed with John Donald Robb Archive master tapes.
Finding Aid of the Juan S. Lucero and Lora L. Chavez Collection of New Mexico Hispanic Religious and Traditional Songs, 1950-2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

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