The Nacha Mendez Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of Color
Music is a powerful catalyst for personal growth. While it is an essential part of life for everyone, I believe music is particularly potent for young women and girls of color. My mission is to encourage and promote the art of instrumental and vocal performance in girls, ages 8-15, in the state of New Mexico.
I expect the recipients of the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of Color to master the skills and acquire the knowledge to help guide them to the highest levels of music performance. I also aim to empower girls to discover their distinct and unique musical potential for years to come. I believe that when a girl has passion, dedication, and support, opportunity multiplies.
I would like to share a little of my personal musical history and describe the seed that my brother planted in my ear that has now become a reality called the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for New Mexican Girls of Color.
I believe in the powerful healing potential of music. Growing up as the daughter of working class parents in southern New Mexico, I learned early on of the benefits of having music lessons, mentors, and teachers. I also realized the importance of having the financial means to pursue music education and opportunities in the music industry. I knew even as a young child that being a musician was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Due to an early childhood accident, at 7 years of age, one of my fingers was severed at the tip. My family was financially impacted by this; they had to work extra hard to pay for my medical expenses. I spent many afternoons during that time with my brother, who took care of me after school, reading Dr. Seuss while eating cookies and milk, or watching Lost in Space together. It was a slow healing process and I missed playing the plastic guitar my father had bought for me. But I was happy to have my big brother by my side. Once, when my beloved guitar was by the window, the strong New Mexican sun melted a hole in it! My father patched it up with another piece of plastic from a plastic bottle, and we waited for my finger to heal. All the while my parents saved up the money to buy me a bigger and better guitar.
Months later, we ventured into Juarez, Mexico, about a 20-minute drive across the border, and my parents bought me a Tres Pinos guitar. I remember that day well. My mother told me, “your brother is going to get braces in Juarez for his teeth and you will get guitar lessons with Mr. Garcia.” I was so excited for what the future would bring!
My mother found a caring and patient teacher who worked with my disability. Mr. Garcia was a house painter by day and a drive-in movie projectionist by night. He ran the Joy Drive-in theater in Anthony, New Mexico. His whole family were musicians. They had a Mariachi group called La Familia Garcia. Every week I took lessons, and as painful as it was, little by little I began to heal my finger.
Consequently, in my career as a guitarist, I became a strong rhythm guitarist. Later in high school, I also took piano and voice lessons and went on to study music at New Mexico State University. It is because of these life experiences, and the guidance of musical mentors and family members, that I continued with music studies and then went on to a career as a professional performer.
I also knew, lessons had to be paid for, and that my parents had to fill up on a tank of gas to drive me to an audition or lesson in El Paso or Las Cruces. I also knew buying an instrument cost money, and that my mother had to hire a seamstress to make me a nice dress to wear at my audition. My mother could not afford a new piano, so she bought a used one that had been damaged in a fire. Miraculously, it played like a dream.
In 2018, I received the prestigious New Mexico Platinum Music Lifetime Achievement award in the State of New Mexico. Soon after, my brother took me out to lunch to celebrate the award. I remember him saying "This is a big honor, a big deal, now you need to start a scholarship." He planted the seed in my ear and I listened. He passed away soon after.
It is my wish to contribute financially and as a mentor, in inspiring a young musician who has the passion and dedication to discover the richness that a music education and career can provide. It is my wish that this scholarship will also address the gender and racial imbalance within the music industry, and help young women to overcome some of the socio-economic barriers I faced growing up.
This September, 2021 we will begin taking applications for the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship for Young Women of Color ages 8-15.
In January 2022, we will award two scholarships. One to an 8-11 year old and another award for an 11-15 year old.
A fundraiser is planned for July, 27, 2021 at Museum Hill Cafe., Santa Fe New Mexico. 5:00 - 8:00 PM. More information and updates will be available. Please check back.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham opens the evening with a few words. There will be a prix fixe dinner $85.00 and $40.00 is tax deductible. Also, guest speakers and music by Euforia and Nacha Mendez.
Online tickets can be purchased here:
For more information please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (505) 557-7336
Please mark your calendar!
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will speak at the Nacha Mendez Music Scholarship Launch party at Museum Hill on July 27 at Museum Hill Cafe. The event is scheduled from 5-8PM.
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Melanie Monsour graduated from UMass/Amherst with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory/
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Guitarist/Vocalist Lorraine Valdez (aka La Rain) was born in San Diego, California. When she was 10-years old her father retired from the Navy and moved her family from Chula Vista to Espanola, New Mexico. Her mother and grandmother both played guitar and at a very young age she began a profound love for music. She began playing in middle
Guitarist/Vocalist Lorraine Valdez (aka La Rain) was born in San Diego, California. When she was 10-years old her father retired from the Navy and moved her family from Chula Vista to Espanola, New Mexico. Her mother and grandmother both played guitar and at a very young age she began a profound love for music. She began playing in middle school with her former mentor Ernest Sanchez. After a few years, she mastered many songs and was thrown in a room with another student who introduced her to the world of Heavy Metal. She learned a variety of material, but her biggest influence was the late and great Randy Rhodes. With a strong background in Rock and Spanish music, she began her adventures. Her current bands are Mariachi Sin Nombre, New Mexico recording star Miguel Timoteo Y Suavidad, and her pride and joy, in your face Rock Band Hartless. La Rain has taken all her influences over time to come up with a unique style. At any time of the day a bilingual version of “Hit Me with Your Best shot” could be heard on Que Suave radio or her current duet “Fotografia” with Miguel Timoteo on KANW or KDCE. Not to mention her version of Danzig’s “Mother” on Thunder 105.5 KTRZ. La Rain has had the pleasure of opening for acts like Lita Ford and Kingdom Come and has always loved mentoring young and upcoming prodigies in the making. She finds purpose in helping people forget their problems or add to their happiness by making memories through the love of music. The intention from day one was to reach out to all races, creeds, genders, or species as well has empower the world one gig at a time.
The evening begins with music by Euforia.
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