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Spanish activist collective, Murcia Canción de Autor, produce "homage" CDs to well-known political artists and engage in public performances. Roberta Bacic talked with Jesús Cutillas.

Homage to Murcia

Roberta: Tell us a bit about your group, what you do and why you do it

Jesús: Our association, “Murcia Canción de Autor” (Murcia Songwriters)wants to give each person who wants to sing in public a chance to do so. We shareour songs and ideas about the world and music in general and, in particular, “can-cio'n de autor”. Participating in the homage to Victor Jara CD has been a collaboration with the Itaca co-op, with which we have been doing similar “homages”. This year we decided to record it and to do more extensive outreach.

RB: What are you trying to achieve?

JC: Well, to let people know what we are doing and to have fun. In this way we can get back the money we invest and engage in new projects, even better ones than the ones we have now. On the other hand we encourage individual initiatives by each songwriter who does his/her own music and fundraising. In Murcia we have CDs produced by Diego Cantero and Jesús Cutillas, and we promote them as much and well as we can.

RB: How do you organise?

JC: We have an assembly each month where we decide on the agenda. We use the phone a lot to organise as we do not have professional help. When people are organising a concert, they let us know and we support each other as much as we can. We organise a regional presentation open to all the songwriters in the region, we call it “clave de sol”, where we democratically decide (using a secret ballot) who will get to play in the auditorium (only 18 can do so due to lack of time and space) and who will record a CD, which is then promoted for free. A private bank pays for this. They do it as part of their contribution to culture and so support our initiative. We would do it anyway, but if we had to dig deep into our own pockets we could do less outreach.

RB: Is your work intended as a challenge to popular culture?

JC: We are popular culture! We challenge no-one. We sing what we compose because we like it and because we believe that if everybody participated in a similar way in the life of the community, then the possibilities of cultural richness would expand. I personally believe that when people participate and they see what they can do, they are valued and acknowledged. If that is the case, the result is revolutionary.

RB: Do you make public presentations?

JC: Constantly. People should know that they can participate, that here they have the possibility and the space to do so.

RB: Do people see and hear your work outside of Spain?

JC: Not as much as we would like to. Not because we are so original or special, but because we want to share our work with our friends and comrades.

RB: What will you do next?

JC: We will play some concerts in the Santo Domingo Plaza of Murcia, supporting the general strike in June and the alternative summit in Seville [during the EU summit] to show that a different world is possible. And then we will have another Clave de Sol in autumn. Maybe we can take the Victor Jara homage CD to a PCE [Communist Party of Spain] party in Madrid.

Topics: Culture