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Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez

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Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez performing at the 2013 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., photograph by Michael G. Stewart
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez performing at the 2013 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., photograph by Michael G. Stewart
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez performing at the 2013 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., photograph by Michael G. Stewart
Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez, Washington, D.C., 2013, photograph by Alan Govenar

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez is a native of Blythe, California. His parents were immigrant farmworkers from Mexico, and he joined them in the fields. He learned traditional Mexican music from his mother and uncles. As a teenager, he became involved in the farmworker organizing movement and marched with union leader César Chávez, who often asked him and fellow musicians to perform at union events.

After enrolling at San Diego State University in 1969, Sánchez joined La Rondalla Amerindia de Aztlán, which included both students and professors and became the voice of the Chicano movement. The following year, the community rallied to oppose a planned California Highway Patrol substation on a patch of land under the Coronado Bridge. Sanchez took part in the takeover of the site on April 22, 1970, which led to establishment of Chicano Park. He composed a song, “Chicano Park Samba,” which remains popular to this day. Sanchez, an engaging man who often uses humor to win over an audience, also worked as an actor as a member of the Teatro Mestizo, which was affiliated with the Centro Cultural de La Raza in San Diego. In 1976, with his brother Ricardo Sanchez formed Los Alacranes (The Scorpions), which often performed for United Farm Workers rallies and marches. In 1977, the group joined with Mexico City theater ensemble Los Mascarones to record Levántate Campesino, a rare example of a documented artistic collaboration between Chicanos and Mexicans.

Sánchez is a versatile musician who plays ten instruments and can perform in virtually any style. But his role has extended far beyond music. He has been a Little League coach, teacher, youth center director and gang intervention counselor and has been recognized with numerous awards, including the César Chávez Humanitarian Award and several honors from the California Arts Council and the City of San Diego Commission on Arts and Culture.

Bibliography
Rodriguez, Russell. “Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez Receives NEA National Heritage Fellowship.” Alliance for California Traditional Arts website, July 18, 2013. http://www.jeremymhofer.com/actaonline/content/ramon-chunky-sanchez-receives-nea-national-heritage-fellowship
Sanchez, Leonel. “Spotlight to shine on ‘Chunky’ Sanchez at Chavez festival.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 31, 2004. “NEA National Heritage Fellowships: Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez.” http://arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/ram%C3%B3n-chunky-s%C3%A1nchez
“Los Alacranes.” San Diego Reader, August 2011. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/bands/los-alacranes/

Discography
Various artists. La Rondalla Amerindia de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement. Smithsonian Folkways CD 40516, 2005.
______. Levatante Campesino, 1977 LP. http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.mx/MLM-475895032-levantate-campesino-lp-varios-artistas-_JM Los Alacranes. Rising Souls. 24/7 Records CD, 1999.
______. Picando! CD re-release of 1989 cassette, Los Alacranes Publishing, 2000.
______. In Good Company. Rebel Ink Records CD, 2003.

Watch

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez interviewed by Nicholas R. Spitzer, 2013 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., courtesy National Endowment for the Arts

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez performing at the 2013 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., courtesy National Endowment for the Arts


Listen

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez explains what inspired him to play music, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez answers the question 'What was the first song that ignited you and made you realize you were a singer?' Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez answers the question 'Where would the strike be happening?' Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez answers the question 'What was it like working out in the fields?' Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez explains the 500- mile march, Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez sings "Los Otros," a song passed on to him by his mother. Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez describes and sings a song about the migrant life, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez answers the question 'What keeps you going?' Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez answers the question 'How would you characterize your style of music?' Interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez talks about his heritage and identity as an American, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez discusses the creation of chicano and plays a chicano song, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez describes the creation of Chicano Park, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013

Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez sings a song about Chicano Park, interview by Alan Govenar, Washington, D.C., 2013