Aunque todo lo dicho no sea cierto, todo lo cierto no está dicho.

While not all that is said is true, not all that is truth is told.

Rafael Manriquez: “Of course [I am] closest to what is the nueva canción. I am its product.”

Singer and songwriter Rafael Manriquez died last night after a car accident on Freeway I-80 in California. Rafael was an outstanding singer,  am extraordinaire guitar player, songwriter and founder of Grupo Raiz. He was a passionate Human Rigths advocate and a fierce resistant against the military dictatorship in Chile were he was born in 1947. LatinOpen.

“Of course [I am] closest to what is the nueva canción. I am its product.”

Rafael Manriquez: Biograyhy and album concept. By Daniel Sheehy, with Rafael Manríquez. From the recording ¡Que Viva el Canto! Songs of Chile. Rafael Manríquez and Friends. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings,

Rafael Manríquez (March 27, 1947- June 26, 2013) is a Chilean journalist, singer, guitarist, composer and producer born in Santiago, Chile.


Rafael Manríquez, lead artist and coproducer of this recording, was born in Santiago on 27 March 1947. Singing was a constant in his home, and his grandfather enlivened family life with his guitar playing. Rafael recalls his first song sung in public, for his students in primary school: “It was the ‘Tonada de Manuel Rodríguez,’ a tonada [song] written by Pablo Neruda and by Vicente Bianchi, poet and musician, respectively.” He took up the guitar at age fifteen to perform songs of neighboring Argentina recorded by Los Chalchaleros and other current favorites. “I really liked the Argentine zamba,” he remembers. He soon joined his brother José Manuel and two other friends in the group Los Machis, named after the Mapuche (Indian) shamans (usually women). While studying in Viña del Mar, a city on Chile’s central coast important for contemporary song festivals and competitions, the group competed in the Festival Chile Múltiple, tying for first place with another young group, Quilapayún, which in the following decades became one of the most renowned Chilean nueva canción groups. After completing two years of journalism studies, Rafael moved to the Chilean capital, Santiago, where he joined Ñancahuazú, a talented trio in the nueva canción vein. Ñancahuazú recorded De Chile a Chile ‘From Chile to Chile’, an album of songs that spoke of the history of Chile, and they toured the southern regions of the country.

Nueva Cancion and the Neofolklore Movement

Manríquez worked as a music journalist during one of the most momentous times in Chilean music history. As a reporter for the music magazine El Musiquero (1970–1973), he interviewed, reviewed, and wrote about key figures such as Víctor Jara, Inti-Illimani, Quilapayún, and Violeta Parra. It was the time of socialist president Salvador Allende, and performances by foreign artists from like-minded movements such as Cuba’s Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés were commonplace at musical events supported by the Allende regime. “All this contact with the Chilean nueva canción and the Latin American thing …put me close to the nueva canción and the modern folklore movement,” says Rafael, characterizing aspects of the movement as “neofolklore.” He explains how, beginning in the early 1960s, the “neofolklore movement arose with groups such as Los Cuatro Cuartos, with important songwriters….This is the neofolklore movement that takes it upon itself to save the different rhythms and styles from north to south in Chile. That was the great contribution of that movement, as well as the fact of the enthusiasm of the youth and all the people, their connection to the guitar.” This, in turn, led to “the rise of the nueva canción, with Víctor Jara, with Patricio Manns, with Isabel Parra, and, naturally, with Violeta Parra, the bearer and the mother of the nueva canción.”

Then came the fateful day of 11 September 1973, when the commander-in-chief of the Chilean army, Augusto Pinochet, led a coup d’état, overthrowing Allende and his government. Repression of leftist parties and ideologies followed, with thousands of people tortured and killed. “There was heavy censorship,” Rafael recalls. “My desire was to leave Chile, because I really found myself in a very restrictive situation in regard to free expression….I could not write what I wanted any longer for the magazine. My musical career had stopped right there…. I was invited [in 1975] to go to Ecuador to work in restaurants and things like that as a singer.” He soon realized that playing pop songs and the nightlife were not for him, and he moved from Guayaquil to Quito (Ecuador), where he found more creative, cultural development work touring the country and performing traditional music.

Grupo Raiz

Manríquez relocated to Berkeley, California, where he found many sympathetic musicians, some of whom had also suffered persecution and even torture at the hands of the Chilean military. By 1980, he and several others had formed Grupo Raíz, following the model of Chilean nueva canción groups. Grupo Raíz toured Europe and North, Central, and South America, releasing three long-play recordings during their most active period, from 1980 to 1985. Two of these, Amaneceres ‘Dawnings’ (1981) and América del Centro ‘The Center of America’ (1984), were published on the Monitor label, which later became part of the Smithsonian Folkways collections. (They are available at Subsequently, with the exception of periodic reunion concerts, the members of Grupo Raíz went their own artistic ways. Rafael recorded several self-produced solo albums and became a fixture at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, teaching and performing throughout the Bay Area. Since 1990, Rafael has returned regularly to Chile, where he became part of its national folksong movement.

Album Concept

Rafael Manríquez conceived this recording as a contemporary expression of many important threads of Chilean musical creation. It follows his experiences as both a producer and a product of the folksong movement that emerged in Chile in the 1950s and 1960s, drawing all the while from regional folk music in Chile and beyond. His creative perspective, musical tastes, and artistic connections closely reflect the major changes in Chilean folk music over a halfcentury of urbanization, political and social turmoil, and pan-Latin American connections. His mainstream position in the nueva canción movement finds him drawing firsthand or secondhand from rural traditions and interacting closely with more formally trained, professional musicians, who perform in urban settings. He sums up his concept for this album as representing “diverse compositional times and spaces of Chilean song.”

He explains: “In the development of Chilean folklore, there are many, many focuses…. A grand evolution that goes from the humorous to the tradition-oriented (costumbrista), to the analytic and political as well. We have great cultivators of chanted improvised verse (paya), and I wanted that to be present in our album….Now the historical tonada, a song by Rolando Alarcón, for example, songs that represent composition from the 1850s through the end of the 1800s, a couple of those are recorded there. Of what is the Central Chilean tonada,…I also have friends with whom I cultivated that genre,…with lots of barbecues and staying up late and participation in performances.” He also wanted the creole song (tonada criolla) to be present, representing a movement at the beginning of the 20th century and continuing through to the present century with the music of groups such as Los Cuatro Huasos and Los Provincianos and composers such as Luis Bahamondes.
The concept of the album is to include all these veins of folk music. “I have had an approach to all this music, and I think that in all the musical genres—traditional, in between, neofolklore, nueva canción—there are good things and things that are not so good as well.” In this recording, Manríquez aims to take the best and to offer a new rendition, following his own musical tastes. He adds, “Of course [I am] closest to what is the nueva canción. I am its product.”



Album Title Description Year
¡Que viva el Canto! (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) 25 songs from different times, areas and styles of the Chilean folk music. 2008
“Aquí te traigo una Rosa” A section of folkloric songs from Latin America, two voices and many folk instruments. 2007
Canto y Soneto: Rafael Manríquez sings Pablo Neruda Music by Rafael Manríquez on 14 of Pablo Neruda’s “100 Sonnets of Love 2007
Alma de Niño with Ingrid Rubis 2006
Mi Sol de Ayer. A journey of Latin American songs Lyrics by Rafael Manriquez and Music by Jerry Lee 2003
Grupo Raiz. Anthology 1980-1984   2002
Canto al Poeta Songs of Rafael Manríquez and David Barrows, set to the poetry of Pablo Neruda 2001
La Travesía Solo recording 2001
Amistades / Friendships. Music of the Chilean diaspora with Quique Cruz 2000
Canto a Gabriela Solo Recording 1995
Colibrí. Latin American Music for the Whole Family Colibrí Ensemble 1994
Andares Solo recording 1989
Canciones de Compañeros with Ruth Schoenbach 1985
De Chile a Chile Trio Ñancahuazú 1970

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: