Las Vegas, N.M. – Reyes Montoya, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music production from New Mexico Highlands University in May 2019, was inducted into the Latin Grammy Association in April.
The 22-year-old native of the tiny village of Sunshine, New Mexico, near Ribera started a recording career with his first release in April, an album titled “Persiguiendo.”
Montoya, a tenor singer-songwriter who plays electric guitar, bass and drums, has high aspirations.
“I see being part of the Latin Grammy Association as the beginning of finding a wider audience for my music,” Montoya said. “My long-term goal is to become a nationally known recording artist and benefit my musical community of New Mexico musicians.”
Montoya describes his music as next-generation New Mexican.
“I’m including different styles of Latin music to make it more modern, with hints of rock ’n’ roll and funk. My music continues the legacy of singing in the traditional Northern New Mexico Spanish dialect. My music means everything to me. It gives me constant inspiration and purpose,” Montoya said.
Montoya said his earliest memories involve being immersed in a musical family that preserved its Hispanic heritage. Reyes and his sister Angelica perform with the family band Deseo, which his parents, John and Rose Montoya, co-founded in 2003. Highlands sophomore Angelica, 18, is also known for her vocal performances with mariachi groups such as Mariachi Cardenal de Robertson High and the Mariachi Vaqueros de Highlands.
“I’ve been making music with my parents and sister forever,” Reyes Montoya said. “Angelica is a woman of many talents who sings and also plays guitar. We started collaborating together in 2016. I write the music and she writes the lyrics.”
Angelica Montoya said making music with her brother is something they both love to do that keeps them bonded.
“My brother puts his whole heart and soul into his music, which is both unique and traditional,” Angelica Montoya said. “I’m one proud sister.”
Reyes Montoya first formed his band Los Jefes, which he translates as “the bosses,” when he was a freshman at West Las Vegas High. The band took a break in 2016 and started playing again in 2018 with new musicians including his sister Angelica on vocals, Abraham García on guitar, and Christian Gutierrez on bass. Drummer Brandon Gallegos joined Los Jefes in 2019.
Highlands music professor Edward Harrington directs the Music Technology Program and was Montoya’s adviser.
“Reyes came into the music program with a great deal of talent and ambition,” Harrington said. “He’s a versatile musician who is a fantastic guitarist, drummer and bass player who can sing and play well at the same time.”
Harrington said Montoya is fearless when it comes to networking with other musicians and music professionals.
“Reyes is also as comfortable on stage as he is operating the mixing board. Performing and mixing are two different mind sets and Reyes has a good handle on both,” Harrington said.
Harrington said Montoya’s talent and determination will carry him as far as he wants to go.
“Dr. Harrington helped me develop a professional sound for recording,” Montoya said. “I was very set in my ways and he pushed me in new directions. For example, adding electronic sound effects to my music so it became a more polished professional production.”
At Highlands, Montoya also performed in the university’s Jazz Ensemble as well as original music concerts. He also performed in the Mariachi Vaqueros de Highlands, which was re-established in 2018 under the direction of Martin Sena, the longtime mariachi director for Robertson High and Memorial Middle School.
“At Highlands, I had an opportunity to present original music to the public. My music production degree has helped me gain valuable contacts and jobs in the music business. I’m super grateful for Highlands and this degree,” Montoya said.
Montoya thinks his future is bright.
“Within the next 10 years, I hope to record multiple albums and be a successful full-time musician who always remembers his roots. My album ‘Persiguiendo’ means to pursue and that’s what I’ll be doing: chasing my dreams,” Montoya said.