Know Your Neighbor: Maggie Vigil

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Por Primera Vez (The First Time) isn’t merely a statement expressed by musician-singer Maggie Vigil – it’s her dream of recording a CD come true. 

“This is my first CD, but I plan to complete another one. In my childhood, my dad, Felix Vigil, taught me about music. By the time I was 12 years old, I was even more interested. We’d watch the old Valentin (Val) de la O Show on T.V., and we noticed that his guests included average citizens instead of famous stars. Val always encouraged his guests. This excited me because we could see the possibilities,” said Maggie Vigil during a recent interview. This musical climate instilled in her dad, a music teacher, the desire for his daughter to create a 33 LP record, the only technology available back in those days. His dream became his daughter’s dream, one that came to fruition many years later.

Despite her youth and the fact the she shared a guitar with her sister Evelyn, Vigil loved her affiliation with music. Vigil, along with three other females, formed the group Las Rancheritas. Loretta Mondragón played bass and Maggie’s sister Evelyn sang and played lead rhythm guitar. Alice Vigil, another sibling, played the drums and Maggie sang and played guitar. The group performed at Andy’s La Fiesta Lounge and Old Martinez Hall (now Old Martina’s Hall). As the girls grew older, some of the members lost interest in playing with the group, “but not me,” said Maggie Vigil. The group disbanded, but Vigil studied guitar at Taos High School before the founding of the school’s mariachi band.

Vigil, the youngest of 10 surviving children of Felix and Eloisa Vigil, said her mother experienced 16 pregnancies, and many Vigil children died in childbirth. Her father supported the family as a farmer and carpenter, and her mother retired from working in the school cafeteria when Vigil started first grade. Her siblings are Fermín Vigil, Dolores Cárdenas, Valentin Vigil, Josephine Vigil and Louisa Vigil, Michael Vigil, Sister Martha Vigil, Evenly Vigil and Alice Vigil.

Maggie Vigil wanted to pursue higher education, but couldn’t because of the need to raise her two sons as a single parent. Her sons finished college and now enjoy good careers and lives in Albuquerque. Matthew Garcia, her oldest son, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance. He and his wife Jaclyeen raise Maggie’s grandsons Cash Garcia, 11, and Jax Garcia, 4. Her second son Joshua received two degrees in Health Administration and now works for the state. His partner is Carlos.“I was a strict parent. My sons never gave me trouble,” said their proud mother. She added, “I, in turn, encouraged them to pursue their interests.”

Vigil’s own career included an 11-year stint at the cafeterias in the Taos Municipal Schools. After her son Joshua completed high school, she felt it was time for a change, and she currently works in the Housekeeping Department at the Taos campus of SMU (Southern Methodist University).

Working did not deter Maggie Vigil from continuing the pursuit of her music. As a school employee, she participated in the school talent shows. For many years, Vigil has sung in the San Francisco de Asís parish choir in Ranchos de Taos with Kathleen Branchal and Karen Salazar, “the girl choir” as they call it, and at other times with Pete Martínez. Her participation in this activity honors the tradition with which she was raised. Vigil’s late parents served as mayordomos in the Ranchos de Taos parish, and her father built the entire San Isidro scene for the chapel that bears the same name.

Vigil also has fond memories of singing for private parties, graduations, weddings, with Mariachi Calór for the annual Taos Mother’s Day celebration and with mariachis at a nightclub in Cancun. She sings mostly in Spanish, but sometimes in English, and especially likes corridosrancheras and boleros. For weddings, and if she performs outside a church setting, she’ll write a custom song. In the church, she uses the traditional version. “I like to sing,” shared this week’s subject. “If I sing with a group, I can concentrate better on playing the guitar,” she added.

The fulfillment of the dream of completing a body of music brought joy to Maggie Vigil. She composed the first song Eran Mentiras because she witnessed many people who live broken-hearted due to negative circumstances. Other selections include nine traditional songs of her culture. Some examples are: Demasiado TardePuño de Tierra and Siempre Hace Frio.

The singer-musician’s life doesn’t only include work and music. She enjoys traveling; some of her vacation spots include Hawaii, Cancun and New York. Vigil likes to hang out with friends and she likes to sew. A long-time out of town friend Lillian Gastelum provides fun times such as travel and meals at their favorite restaurants — Orlando’s and Pizaños. Her favorite author is Jodi Picoult. She also enjoys television game shows and “oldies movies.” “I like the Andy Griffin Show, Mash and I Love Lucy," Vigil said. "They may be reruns, but I probably don’t remember the original ones anyway." 

At this time of her life, Maggie Vigil remains content with the fruits of her labor. To order a tape, contact her for more information, (575) 613-6225. To hear a little song Vigil played in her living room, go to youtu.be/DPspIJnAMAY.

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