While not all that is said is true, not all that is truth is told.
Virtuoso Chilean singer and song-writer Rafael Manriquez passed away June 26. By Fernando Andres Torres. LatinOpen. July 15, 2013.
Prolific composer, singer and virtuoso guitar player Rafael Manriquez passed away June 26, 2013 after suffering a stroke and subsequent car accident on I80, between Albany and Berkeley.
One of the most highly respected and well known South American singers in the bay Area, Rafael was a Berkeley resident since the late 70’s. Born March 27,1947, in Santiago, Chile, he began to play guitar and perform at age 14. Rafael was also a journalist who wrote extensively about the new song movement, a group of musicians that supported the government (1970-1973) of Chilean President, Salvador Allende.
Rafael left Chile in 1975 overwhelmed and profoundly sadden by the fierce military junta that overthrew President Allende’s government and -among other eerie crimes – banned the new song movement and plunged the country into what was called the apagón cultural, cultural blackout. The US-backed coup d’etat of 1973 forced many artists like Rafael to run for their lives. Rafael first lived in Ecuador then later moved to California where he lived in Santa Cruz and in Berkeley.
As Karen Lee Wald recently wrote on a facebook page: “From the first time I heard Grupo Raiz sing, Rafael’s voice struck chords to the very essence of my being. I had never been so moved by the sound of someone singing. Maybe he was just born a talented singer, but I often thought that the haunting experiences he lived through during the coup in Chile and the decades of repression afterwards infiltrated his music, gave it a resonance like no other. He suffered — and survived the coup … We are fortunate that he left us his music, his wonderful children — but I think I speak for many of us when I say we are just not ready to be without him”
Among his abundant artistic production Rafael, recorded more than ten albums and wrote poetry, songs, cantatas and pieces for guitar and charango. He was known for his music compositions to the work of noted poets such as Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. Que Viva el Canto / Long live the Song is the title of an extraordinary recording put out in 2008 by the Smithsonian Folkways Records in Washington DC. To complete this work, Rafael travelled back and forth to Chile to collaborate with the most important Chilean folk singers to produce an exhaustive work about the past and present of Chilean folk music.
Relatives and fellow musicians gathered at South Berkeley’s La Peña last Friday July 12 to pay tribute to Rafael. At a full house, cultural workers, musicians, poets and theater artists performed for more than three hours in front of a colorful hand-painted canvas with the image of Rafael playing his guitar with a joyful Pablo Neruda at his side. ###