Brenda M. Romero is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she has been on the faculty since 1988, serving as Chair of Musicology from 2004-2007. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California in Los Angeles, and received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Theory and Composition from the University of New Mexico. She has worked extensively on the pantomimed Matachines music and dance and other New Mexican folk music genres that reflect both Spanish and Indian origins. Since 1998 she has extended her fieldwork and research on Matachines to Mexico and in January 2007 to Colombia, and has published various articles on the subject. She is co-editor with Olga Nájera-Ramírez and Norma Cantú of Dancing across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming). She founded and facilitates the College Music Society Summer Institute on the Pedagogies of World Music Theories, which she hosts every other summer in Boulder. In November 2007 she spoke at a UNESCO/Northeastern University Symposium on “Music and Intercultural Dialogue” in Paris.
Dr. Romero learned to sing by the age of two by listening to her mother, and began formal voice study with soprano Margaret Nickson of the Brisbane Music Conservatory, Queensland, Australia in the 1970s. In the 1980s she studied voice with tenor Robert Smith at the University of New Mexico. She studied classical guitar with Hector García at UNM as well. She performed the violin with the Pueblo of Jemez Matachina from 1989-1998 to keep the tradition alive, meanwhile training her successor. She frequently gives lecture/recitals, locally, regionally, and internationally, on the older folk music of New Mexico and southern Colorado, and has appeared on regional television productions as performer and narrator. This includes a 2008 PBS Special on John Donald Robb, who collected most of the songs she sings. Her vocal styles sometimes attempt to mimic the old singers heard in archival recordings, other times her voice reflects Joan Baez and other folk singers. Her expressive devices are often emblematic of the old Indo-Hispano culture of New Mexico.
Dr. Romero is best known among her friends for providing English translations and research notes for the 1987 Elektra recording Canciones de Mi Padre by Linda Ronstadt. In 2000 she was awarded a Fulbright Research Scholarship to conduct field research on the Matachines music and dance in Mexico. She received the 2005 Society for American Music’s “Sight and Sound” award, a subvention toward the production of her 2008 CD,Caniones de mis patrias: Songs of My Homelands, Early New Mexican Folk Songs. In recognition of her tireless work to promote diversity at CU, she was awarded the President’s 2007 Faculty Award for Diversity.
Brenda Romero writes, “as a teacher, scholar, composer, and performer I have tried to be grounded in social consciousness and responsibility in a world that is deeply troubled. I have worked toward a better, more equitable world by helping to create a greater awareness of world cultures through music.”
* In July, 2013 Professor Romero was inducted into the Chicano Music Hall of Fame.