Friday, October 30, 2020

Nancy Sanchez: the Voice We Need to Hear

 Melinda Palacio

Bilingual Singer-Songwriter, Nancy Sanchez uses her voice as a tool for protest. For the past several years, her music has been gaining traction. It’s no surprise to see the multi-talented artist from East L.A. in diverse places from an award-winning album to a lending her vocals on a horror movie. I first heard about her when she released a cover of the song “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Origins. Sanchez is a gifted song writer and musician. She imprints her own style on popular covers, but truly shines when she performs her own music. Her powerful lyrics of protest are paving a way for change, such as her song, “The Kids Are Still in Cages,” which was recently featured on Amy Goodman’s show Democracy Now and is also being taught in high schools. 

A Mariachi teacher, Sanchez plays a variety of string instruments and piano. Her songs are both personal and political. As someone from Toluca who became a citizen in 1989, it is easy for her to put herself in the shoes of dreamers. Nancy has had the dreamer experience, came to California as a child and grew into a California girl, not knowing another home. 

Her discography is impressive. Part of her success and productivity has to do with building a relationship with her ideas and not letting them get away. “Ideas are alive,” said Sanchez, “If you don’t grab them, they’re gone. We are just vessels.” 

Find Nancy Sanchez on most all digital formats. Her various styles appeal to a wide variety of musical taste. Her sound is classic. Songs such as “The Kids Are Still in Cages,” sound timeless.  The overall topic of striving for a better life will appeal to anyone who has dreamt of a goal or something better for themselves. Everything about the song says it was written by an experienced and thoughtful musician. 

When I was thinking of a topic for this week’s Blog, the last in October, I wanted to go back to this subject of kids who are detained in concentration camps here in the U.S. and the trauma that brings. I was going to reprint two of my previously published poems, “ICE DETENTION, Tornillo, Texas” and “Bad Girl.” I’m thrilled to add Nancy Sanchez’s song and video to this poest. Check out her webstite, Nancy Sanchez music, her instagram, and her music. Now, more than ever it’s important to support artists, especially those who use their platforms to speak up for justice. Nancy has a new protest EP out today, “Say Something,” a 3-song album with “The Kids Are Still in Cages,” “Say Something,” and “Hasta Que Todos Estos a Salvo.” She’s running a special on bandcamp today, October 30. 

Use your voices. Vote, Wash your hands. Stay safe. 

Bad Girl 

Melinda Palacio

(Published in Fifth Wednesday Journal 2019)

A girl hides her mermaid shirt with a cardboard sign

She colored herself FREE THE  KIDS!

After the hot march on a day with no wind or clouds,

She will return to the land of innocence and make believe.

Wasn't it yesterday her mother marched with her mother,

Held up a sign:

No Person is Illegal?

When a six-year old boy asks,

"Why is the President mad at us?"

Innocence is lost.

When a tween begs for a Trump piñata. He'll take

The one with the flimsy orange streamers falling off.

Baseball bat included, no need for a birthday.

When children and babies are jailed 

For wearing the wrong skin color,

Songs and laughter sound strange.

No one dares asks the Cat Stevens question:

Where Do the Children Play?

One hundred days into the mind games at our border and

I have a recurring dream, the kind that follows me into

Wakefulness, a loop of despair. Once again,

I am separated from my parents. S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E- D. 

First I am a grown woman, jailed with young children. 

I wake up screaming: I am not an orphan, I have a family, 

I am American.

I awake, but the dream continues, has a separate life of its own.

I am a child, separated from my parents, unable to speak English,

let alone defend myself in a court room.

The one thing I understand is I am a bad girl. 

I took my friend's marble, a beautiful glass. 

Swirls of kaleidoscope hold the universe.

Does God live at the marble's center?

I stole the marble. The long trek, my mother's nervousness,

the difficult smile, the rushed steps. I know why I am in jail.  

A bad girl's fate. 

The immigration officer lets his dog lick his face.

I wish someone would hold me as sweetly.

Nuzzle my neck, tell me I am a good girl.

Once upon a time my mother.

Once upon a time my grandmother.

Once upon a time the lady jailer reads.

What does once upon a time mean to a child in jail?

¿Quién sabe?

ICE DETENTION, Tornillo Texas

Melinda Palacio

(published in Santa Barbara Literary Journal 2018)

Strange hands spoon feed 

a hungry baby.

Lice fall out of her hair like stardust.

The girl is my daughter.

The girl is your daughter.

The girl is ours.

No more food for the baby girl.

Her celestial caul becomes earthen.

She turns into a pig. 

When all the children morph into swine,

their puckered lips turn to snouts

inside hell’s version of Wonderland.

Then, and only then, did they bust open

walls that separated them from their parents.

Our eyes go dark.

Melinda Palacio is a poet, author, and speaker. She lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans. Her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won Kulupi Press’ Sense of Place 2009 award. She is the author of the novel, Ocotillo Dreams (ASU Bilingual Press 2011), for which she received the Mariposa Award for Best First Book at the 2012 International Latino Book Awards and a 2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. Her first full-length poetry collection, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting, (Tia Chucha Press 2012) was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Award, the Paterson Prize, and received First Prize in Poetry at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards. In 2015, her work was featured on the Academy of American Poets, Poem-a-Day Program. Melinda's latest poetry collection is, Bird Forgiveness, 3: A Taos Press 2018.

No comments: