Theologian, Cultural Worker, Singer-Songwriter, Francisco Herrera has produced 7 albums (includes 2 children's music in Spanish), writes scores for film and theater, working with producers like the late great Saul Landau. He has shared the stage with the Jon Fromer, Pete Seeger, Emma's Revolution at mass actions as School of America's Watch (up to 22,000 people), and the Battle for Seattle, with over 250,000 people shutting down the WTO in 1999 and massive demonstrations across the country. In 1987, Francisco shared the stage with Joan Baez and Jessie Jackson before 10,000 people there to bring attention to the brutal attack on Vietnam Veteran and Peace Organizer, Brian S. Willson, after the Navy Commander at Concord Naval Weapons Station gave the order to run over the protestors. However, Herrera's most common place is not on big stages. He was actually at the small Nuremberg Peace Action when Brian was run over by the train. So close, in fact, that he was subpoenaed as the witness closest to Brian, David and Duncan. He can be found in intimate gatherings of women recovering from domestic violence, day laborers organizing for a universal wage, children becoming bilingual (Spanish/English), Interfaith groups shutting down private prisons; always performing uplifting and energizing songs that move, teach and inspire. His Latest album Honor Migrante crosses physical and musical borders to expose the grace and beauty of the migrant community as all of us with a rocking sound that brings together regional music from Mexico and the U.S. with a "Chicano Soul" style that permeates his eclectic choice of music.
Growing up in the border town of Calexico, Francisco always straddles two worlds. “My siblings and cousins and I used to sing rancheras and some mariachi at family parties, and when we got a little older we started some garage rock bands,” he recalls of his early musical exploits. But as he became more involved in the church and social issues, in particular with the Latin American Herrera began exploring ways to use music to further his goals of social justice.
Herrera traveled extensively throughout Latin America working with community organizations even as he finished his four years at seminary school, all the while toting his guitar ready to support events, actions, and church meetings. “Reflection, meditation, prayer, all those things are important. But they’re important so you can play a role here to make social change. De ahí nacen all those misas that have a social message.” He deftly weaves between English and Spanish as he explains the philosophy of Liberation Theology as he sits under portraits of his two heroes, Che Guevara, and Monseñor Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated in 1980.
Francisco Herrera’s new album, Honor Migrante, is full of songs that reflect his passion for social justice. The themes range from immigrant rights to globalization, and the music itself crosses genre borders from traditional-sounding norteño and corrido tunes to post-modern electro-cumbia and Latin Rock wet with soulful vocals, wailing electric guitars, and a ripping Fender-Rhodes solo. All these sounds are melded smoothly together by veteran super-producer Greg Landau (Maldita Vecindad, Susana Baca) who met Herrera in the late 1980s on the Nueva Cancion circuit.
Tim Troy, Library
Fisher Children’s Center
San Francisco Public Library
Feb. 9, 2011