Ernestine Saucedo is gone, but her music endures.
The slain Tejano singer-songwriter from Pojoaque, known to music fans by her maiden name, Ernestine Romero, will posthumously receive the New Mexico Hispano Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday at the organization’s 29th annual Hispano Music Awards at the Ohkay Hotel Casino Conference Center.
Bandmates will perform a montage of songs showcasing Romero’s 20-year career in music, and a tribute video will be screened for the audience.
Organizers and Romero’s loved ones said the award is one way to help ensure her legacy is not forgotten.
“It shows that even in death, her music is carrying on,” said the singer’s older sister, Jennifer Romero. “It will inspire [people] and live on forever.”
Ernestine Romero, 32, was fatally shot in July by her husband, 34-year-old Jessie Saucedo, in an SUV parked outside the state Public Education Department’s headquarters in downtown Santa Fe, where she worked as an executive budget analyst supervisor.
Though the couple had been together for a decade, they had been legally separated for a month before Romero’s death, police said. The shooting took place July 11, four days after the couple’s two-year wedding anniversary. Police said Jesse Saucedo took his own life after killing his wife and ruled the incident as a murder-suicide.
The singer’s death came shortly after the release of her 13-track album Mi Tesoro, or My Darling. The album — her 10th — marked her 20th year in the music industry as a Tejano musician, a dance-style genre that fuses Mexican, European and American influences.
The album features a remake of Un Rinconcito en el Cielo. Jennifer Romero said the sisters grew up listening to their father, Willie Romero, play the song with his own band, and Ernestine Romero recorded the song on her first album. She chose to give it a makeover on Mi Tesoro “because that was one of the most influential songs for her. … It’s a little piece of heaven,” Jennifer Romero said.
The album, she added, is a product of her sister’s unparalleled passion and meticulous attention to detail: “She really took time to make sure every word, every note was perfect. She put her heart and soul into every single song on that CD.”
This “heart and soul” for music was in Ernestine Romero’s blood since the day she was born, her sister said.
Jennifer Romero recalled Ernestine putting on shows for family members at age 3, and she released her first album at age 11.
Ernestine Romero won the Hispano Music Award multiple times and was a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards in 2016.
That same year, she was awarded CD of the Year, Cumbia Song of the Year and Salsa Tropical Song of the Year at the Hispano Music Awards, according to her website.
Romero’s family members posted on social media that they tried submitting Mi Tesoro for song and album nominations at the upcoming Hispano Music Awards but failed to provide the album in time for consideration.
The New Mexico Hispano Music Association, however, reached out to the singer’s family with an arguably better plan to acknowledge her music: the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“That is one of the most prestigious awards that we have,” said the association’s vice president, Eric Garcia, adding that immediately after Romero’s death, the organization planned to give it to her.
For the first time this year, Garcia said, the association also will include a Tejano-fusion category to honor Romero’s unique musical style.
“She created her own genre,” Garcia said. The new category, he said, exists “because of her work and some of the artists who are following her path in that type of music.”
Jennifer Romero said her sister’s influence on other artists — especially youth — is one of the most significant parts of her legacy.
“Any kid who had any interest in singing, she’d say, ‘Oh you should enter this [competition],’ because that makes it a reality for them. … She was always helping everybody and anybody,” Jennifer Romero said, noting her family launched the Ernestine Romero Foundation last year to help kids interested in pursuing music.
Jennifer Romero, who will attend the event with her family, said her sister’s music has helped her heal from the heartbreaking death.
“For the longest time, I couldn’t even hear her music because it would make me cry,” she said. But now, “it’s like she’s here. It makes me feel closer to her.”