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Carmencristina Moreno

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Carmencristina Moreno, who was “raised on Mexican music, weaned on mariachi music,” went on to sing in both Spanish and English a repertoire that includes standards, soft rock and country as well as a variety of Mexican and Mexican American material. “I like to be a bridge,” she says, Arlington, Virginia, 2003. Photograph by Alan Govenar
Carmencristina Moreno, Riviera Las Vegas, 1970, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, Sinaloa Club, San Francisco, ca. 1959-60, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno singing with her parents in El Dueto de Los Moreno, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno on the *Joey Bishop Show*, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts
Carmencristina Moreno, flier, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, 2003 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Arlington, Virginia, photograph by Jim Saah, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts
Carmencristina Moreno, flyer, Courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, Arlington, Virginia, 2003, photograph by Alan Govenar
Carmencristina Moreno, flier, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, 2003 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Arlington, Virginia, photograph by Jim Saah, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts
Carmencristina Moreno, flier, courtesy Carmencristina Moreno
Carmencristina Moreno, 2003 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Arlington, Virginia, photograph by Jim Saah, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts
Carmencristina Moreno, Arlington, Virginia, 2003, photograph by Alan Govenar

Carmencristina Moreno's parents, Luis M. and Carmen Moreno, were popular singers who performed on radio in the Los Angeles area from the 1930s through the 1950s as El Dueto de Los Moreno. Her father also composed hundreds of songs. “I was raised on Mexican music, weaned on mariachi music,” Moreno told her hometown newspaper, the Fresno Bee, in 2003. “I think of myself as a keeper of the traditions. If you do it, you have to do it right.”

After World War II, the family moved to California’s San Joaquin Valley, where Moreno’s parents did farm work while continuing to perform. Inspired by her parents and their friends, Moreno decided to pursue a musical career. One of those friends, singer and composer Lalo Guerrero, who later became a National Heritage fellow, instilled in her the idea that she could use her music to address social concerns of Mexican Americans.

In 1976, Moreno gained widespread attention through her appearance on the milestone recording Á Si Se Puede! (Yes, It Can Be Done!), for which she composed the songs “Corrido de Dolores Huerta” and “Sangre Antigüa” (Ancient Blood). She later wrote an ode to César Chávez, who had founded the United Farm Workers union with Huerta. Moreno became increasingly involved in teaching broader audiences about the musical heritage of Mexican Americans. She took part in the 1993 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, conducting workshops and performing her songs of labor and life in the Central Valley. Through a teaching program, she created Parallel Histories of the United States and Mexico through Music and has conducted classes in schools throughout the region. In 2001, the Fresno Arts Council presented her the Horizon Award in recognition of her lifetime of work as an educator and performer.

Moreno sings in both Spanish and English, and her wide-ranging repertoire includes standards, soft rock, country and a variety of Mexican and Mexican American material. “In the process, I like to be a bridge,” she told the Bee, adding that its collaborative nature made the United States a great country. She appeared on comedian Joey Bishop's television show and acted in television programs such as Knots Landing and popular films such as The Master Gunfighter, Hickey & Boggs and Deal of the Century. She had a leading role in Cactuses, an independent film produced by high school and college students that was released in 2006. She continued to perform, record and teach even during two years of treatment for breast cancer without medical insurance. “I’m a starving artist,” she laughingly told the Bee after receiving the Bess Lomax Hawes Award. “The fact that I had to continue singing and playing the guitar to buy groceries shows I’m not rich.”

But the music is obviously a labor of love, and Moreno is optimistic that it will endure, even in a world of iPods and downloads. “Sooner or later, someone picks up one guitar,” she told the Bee, “and it all goes back to the basics.”

Discography
Moreno, Carmencristina. Amor is Love. Sesiem Music Recordings CD00209.
_____. Train from Tenochtitlan. Ocote Records ORCCM399.
_____. Lovers and Legends. Sesiem Music Recordings.
_____. Carmencristina Moreno Plays Guitar and Sings Latin Music in the U.S.A. Ocoteh Productions.

Watch

Carmencristina Moreno, 2003 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Arlington, Virginia, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts

Carmencristina Moreno, 2003 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Arlington, Virginia, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts


Listen

Carmencristina Moreno answers the question 'What is the first song you remember?' Arlington, Virginia, 2003, interview by Alan Govenar

Carmencristina Moreno answers the question 'How did you get started in music?' Arlington, Virginia, 2003, interview by Alan Govenar

Carmencristina Moreno performs a song on her guitar, Arlington, Virginia, 2003, recorded by Alan Govenar

Carmencristina Moreno performs a song on her guitar, Arlington, Virginia, 2003, recorded by Alan Govenar

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Train From Tenochtitlan,' Train from Tenochtitlan, 1999, Ocote Records, ORCCM399

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Vaquero,' Train from Tenochtitlan, 1999, Ocote Records, ORCCM399

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Aquellos Ojos Verdes,' Amor is Love, 2002, SEISIEM Music Recordings, No. 00209

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Sweet & Gentle,' Amor is Love, 2002, SEISIEM Music Recordings, No. 00209

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Solamente Una Vez,' Amor is Love, 2002, SEISIEM Music Recordings, No. 00209

Carmencristina Moreno, 'Working Man's Woman,' Lovers & Legends, 2003, SEISIEM Music Recordings