Interviewed by Karl Abrams
Jacqueline Fuentes is a dynamic and charismatic Chilean folk singer, songwriter and international activist. She moved to Venice about 15 years ago from Santiago and has been playing for small to medium-sized groups of lucky people ever since. The legend is true – to hear her sing is to be instantly mesmerized by the power of her voice.
Jacqueline’s deep and beautifully written lyrics, mostly in Spanish, may be described as a mix of Chilean folk music with a fusion of love, solidarity and revolution. Or, by some accounts, a life-changing musical experience able to move people to their deepest levels.
Her political influences goes back to when she was a child of ten. It was then, in 1973, that a CIA-backed coup d’etat assassinated the Chilean President, Salvador Allende. Jacqueline’s mother, a fiery anti-Pinochet activist, told her that the great folk singer Victor Jarra had his fingers broken by Pinochet’s soldiers so he could no longer play his guitar to lift the spirits of the people. He was then machine-gunned in a sports arena now bearing his name.
Today, Jacqueline’s music is dedicated to help keep alive the same message of love and social revolution that nurtures hope during such politically repressive times.
BH: Jacqueline, who were your early influences as a young musician?
JF: My father was certainly my earliest influence. He was a radio singer way back when we were little kids in Santiago. After work he would record all of my brothers and sisters singing. We loved it. Later, as a teenager, I became influenced by the music and powerful lyrics of Mercedes Sosa, Violetta Parra and Victor Jara.
BH: It looks like you got off to an early start as a young singer in Santiago, Chile.
JF: I was actually 15 when I did my solo debut with the National Folklore Ballet at the Vina Del Mar Festival. That was a wonderful experience for me. That same year I joined a band called “Chamal.” This early experience was very important to my development as an artist. During college I continued to travel with the Ballet.
BH: Did you have time for college studies with so many shows to perform all over the world?
JF: I was very busy. I studied classical music and singing at the University of Chile, one of the oldest schools in Latin America. Pablo Naruda studied there, you know. I also studied music therapy later. Together, they are a good combination I think.
BH: What is the deeper message or meaning of your music?
JF: There is an invisible thread that runs through my three albums. The Great Mother Spirit energy (you know her, right?) is here for all of us to become transformed…to be vulnerable again to life, to be open, to feel deeply once again…to feel interconnected. My songs channel this energy.
BH: I understand. I’ve been listening to your music for about 5 years now. Can you tell us a little about your latest album?
JF: Yes, “Amo La Vida – I Love Life” is the name of my latest album and one of the songs on it. I decided to use a lot of diverse musical instrumentation with a very nice ethnic blend of musicians for all people to connect with. It’s my way of awakening a deep love in people, the first step in real global change.
BH: What kind of changes would you like to see in the world?
JF: My work is mostly about healing and bringing people together, it is capitalism that divides. Through my music, I would like to play my part in helping to integrate the Latin and American communities and contribute towards healing their differences. I prefer to work with all people who are struggling…all over the world.
BH: How about a world tour?
JF: Thank you. It’s coming soon.