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 is an enrolled member of the Chihene Nde Nation of New Mexico.
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.
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