One of the ideas that courses through Singing Our Way to Freedom is the ability of music and the musicians who write and perform the songs to infuse audiences with a passion that makes one want to work for a better existence, to inspire the many to exceed their expectations in the quest for justice and equal rights as American citizens.
In a phone interview, the film’s writer-producer and director Paul Espinosa speaks on the need for music to make the message personal.
“Music is so important to social movements. We’re very aware of that because of the African-American civil rights movement. The songs were central to keeping people engaged, motivated, and inspired. During awful times when people were beaten and oppressed, music has been an important element in inspiring our hearts and our souls to keep going in the face of adversity.”
“I’ve known Chunky since I came to San Diego in the late ’70s and I’ve been involved with producing work on the Latino community and on the U.S. Mexico border region during the really bad times in the late ’70s, early ’80s. I was connected to PBS for a while early in my career but all of the work I’ve done has been basically exploring the border region and the Latino community in one way or another over a long period of time. I’ve known Chunky for more than 40 years and our lives crisscrossed for many years. I would meet him at many political rallies and demonstrations. He was in two of my early films. One was a film called the . He scored music for that film. And he scored the music for another even earlier film called The Trail North. Both films dealt with the Mexican-American community here in San Diego. And I felt that I wanted to have some music that reflected the culture. And so, he did that.”
What comes out of Espinosa’s gathering of archival material and interviews is a warm and fascinating portrait of an important artist/activist who was, until now, a largely unsung presence during an important part of San Diego history. Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez comes across as warm, funny, talented, and committed to a cause greater than himself. Singing Our Way to Freedom that can inspire us to keep our eyes on the prize.
Reprinted from the San Diego Troubadour with kind permission.