A series of interviews conducted by the Instituto Cervantes of Albuquerque brought together three musicians in a collection titled “Porque Canto en Español.” The videos explain cultural influences as well as the impact of the pandemic on being a musician.

The interviews were conducted via video conferencing and then uploaded in late July onto the Instituto Cervantes YouTube page.

The director of the non-profit institute and interviewer of the series, Silvia Grijalba, states the purpose of the project is “to introduce people who live in the United States (born here or not) and have chosen Spanish to develop their career.”

The first half of the two-part project consisted of interviews with three different artists: Spain-born artist Enrique Bunbury, Latin singer Perla Batalla and local New Mexican Nacha Mendez.

Part two of the project is set to be released in October with guests whose names have not yet been disclosed.

The musicians discussed their music careers and what singing in Spanish means to them with Grijalba, as well as their thoughts and worries about how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken and caused uncertainties in their artistic careers.

Nacha Mendez grew up in La Union, a southern New Mexico town, and said New Mexico allowed a space for her to create music.

“Besides milking the goats, going horseback riding, feeding the chickens and swimming in the river, I had a lot of time for learning and making music. Growing up in New Mexico allowed me the freedom to create,” Mendez said.

Throughout Mendez’s career, she studied with people from Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Argentina and Puerto Rico to learn the music of those countries and “diversify her repertoire.” Her upcoming projects include a CD recording to be released this winter as well as plans to make an opera about the Malinche.

The Instituto Cervantes is a non-profit located in the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The institute works toward making the culture of Spain and Latin American countries accessible and also provides classes to teach Spanish. As they aim to reach a broader and more diverse community, they also provide classes and summer camps for children where they can learn about Spanish and Latin American culture.

In the wake of COVID-19, the non-profit shifted its classes online, including a children’s summer camp. It also canceled sociocultural tests such as the DELE and CCSE.

The institute is experiencing some financial losses from canceling activities and events due to the pandemic as well.

“That is why, more than ever, we rely on the culture that we think comforts and helps the community,” Grijalba said. “We are especially grateful for the support of the companies that sponsor us, the private contributions and the official aid we are receiving.”

The Instituto Cervantes is currently focusing on their upcoming edition of the virtual Magnifico Latino Film Fest.

Jasmine Casillas is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @jaycasillas