The author of “Heroes of April,” one of the hymns of civic protest, always dreamed of writing songs of “struggle.”
By Franklin Villavicencio (Confidencial – Niu)
HAVANA TIMES – Jandir Rodriguez, author of the song “Heroes of April,” has been told that his songs will not change the reality of the country. But he has always believed that music “can transform society.” Along with his guitar, he has focused all his musical production to sing to young people killed by repression, to the mothers and to those exiled.
“I think that music inspires, that music moves you and gives strength,” said the singer-songwriter in an interview for the television program “Esta Noche” (Tonight).
Rodriguez was born in Jinotega and since childhood was interested in music. He always wanted to write verses with social content, but it was until May 18, a month after the civic rebellion began, that he managed to fulfill that wish. The inspiration for the song “Heroes of April” came as a “spark.” In almost two hours he had it ready and after recording it with his cellphone thousands of people wrote him shocked by the lyrics. It had inspired them.
“I could not ignore what happened in the country. Before I wanted to write a song about the struggle and I did it a month after the beginning of the protests, afterwards, all the rest (songs) came as if in a cascade,” he explains.
“Heroes of April” was conceived, says Jandir, as a chronicle of what was happening in Nicaragua: the protests against the social security reforms led by the students, which were then repressed and ended in a generalized feeling of being fed up. After the first shots by the shock-groups and police, the population began to demand the end of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and justice for the dead of the massacre, which at that time had not yet reached a hundred.
“I tried to make the analogy of Nicaragua as a woman whose son has been killed, and it is she who tells her own history, full of some symbolism,” he says. In fact, the song begins with the first four notes of the national anthem. “I tried to do something very patriotic,” stresses the artist from the northern Nicaraguan city of Jinotega.
Not even twelve hours passed that day when the song had gone viral throughout Nicaragua, a fact that did not cease to amaze Rodriguez. Since then, his musical production has intensified. Another of his greatest hits have been “the liberator,” dedicated to the 15-year-old Alvaro Conrado Davila, who was killed on April 20th by a shot to the throat. His phrase “It hurts, to breathe” became a symbol of all civic resistance, and also as inspiration of this song.
Another of his songs is “Alfonsina in April,” dedicated to mothers that lost their sons in April. “Alfonsina” tells the story of a woman, after leaving work, finds out that her son was killed in a protest. “I tried to portray a little bit the pain felt by these mothers and pay homage to all of them who have continued in the struggle, demanding their rights and the resignation of this dictatorship,” he reaffirms.
Writing songs of the April civic rebellion cost Jandir Rodriguez his exile. For reasons of security he decided to leave the country, when the threats against him intensified. Before leaving Nicaragua, he wrote “Exiles,” a song dedicated to the more than 40 thousand Nicaraguans already forced to flee from the repression, but while composing it he never imagined that he would be one of them.
Jadir lives his exile through music. “I make “gigs” of “trova” and latin music in bars and restaurants, with that I sustain myself,” he says. He also has a half scholarship at the Da Vinci University, in Guatemala, where he studies a B.A. in Popular and Contemporary Music Performance.
The song “Exiles” also narrates that the thousands of Nicaraguans left because they “took their homeland seriously.” When asked if the is also one of them, Jandir smiles and responds: I don’t know if I do that…I would like to, and I know that many people have wanted to do that and that is why we are out of the country.”
You can follow Jandir Rodriguez through his profiles on Facebook and Twitter. His music is also available in Spotify.