“The Kids Are Still In Cages” by Nancy Sanchez. A song of urgent beauty

Nancy Sanchez is one of the most prolific and talented singer/songwriters on the American scene today, in any language. On the heels of her brilliant album La Gran Civilization, completed just over a month ago, she has released the single and the video “La Maldita Bruja”, and this Friday dropped one of the most beautiful and gut-wrenching songs of 2020, “The Kids are Still in Cages”.

“I was told to go back to where I belong/but I don’t know where I belong” she opens the song. 

This is her story, and it is also the story of thousands of children torn from their families, thrown into concrete cells and wire cages alone, afraid, sick, and in some cases barely alive. The song is simple – mostly voice and piano, but she creates The Border in front of you as those children  see it, and as she feels it.

A whole new culture, a brand new way of life /Without knowing the language, without even a dime /The only frame of mind is to keep that dream alive /It’s not easy to survive

Sanchez was brought to the United States in 1989 at the age of 3 and half,  from her birth city of Toluca.   But her parents – and later the children – worked multiple jobs, saved money, learned English, became citizens and sent her to college. She now has multiple awards as a jazz singer, co-fronts bi-lingual country rock band The Mexican Standoff, and has toured with the Grammy-winning Mariachi band, Flor del La Tloache.  She has achieved the American dream. But now she has brought you face to face with the Border and its cruelty to those looking for the dream today.

Lets not forget about the ones who weren’t so lucky /They traveled far in search of their American dream

Only to find a world so cruel and empty/While the city burns and world rages

The kids are still in cages

Her voice and her lyrics tear at your heart.  Her vocals are anguished, but not pushy, not political.  “I don’t consider myself a political person,” she says. but little by little I am educating myself to what is happening now on the border.” She is talking to your heart, not to your brain or to your politics.  Her voice  is gentle, but her focus  never wavers.

The kids are still in cages What about them? /The kids in cages are waiting /For a friend

What about them? /What about them?

The kids in cages are waiting /To be saved /What about them?

I have been to The Border.  I have seen the ICE helicopters run families to the ground in the desert.  I have talked with the volunteers who go out and collect the sometimes half-eaten bodies of those who died making the crossing.  I have sat the in US Federal District Court in Tucson AZ and watched immigrants dragged in, chained to one another, while their relatives called out to them and cried when a judge who doesn’t speak Spanish orders them deported. Now they don’t even get the judge – 400 children were deported this week without their parents, without due process, without money, without warning, some as young as 4. I am angry, but what creates anger in me creates something much wiser in Sanchez, a question of the heart.

You loose your humanity /How can you live with yourself?

The lyric is not accusatory, it is incredulous.  It is the question the nation is asking.  Can we live with ourselves after what we have done to children on the borderHave we lost our humanity?  Sanchez does this with many of her songs, makes them larger than herself.  “The Kids are Still in Cages” starts with her life but it ends with our souls.  And like all of her music, the questions she asks and the messages she carries are delivered with a musical grace that is unparalleled.  Nancy Sanchez truly sings with urgent beauty.

“The Kids Are Still In Cages”.  Available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deopv8HPGGw

Nancy Sanchez, http://www.nancysanchezmusic.com/

Sanchez’s latest album, La Gran Civilization is available on all platforms

About Patrick O'Heffernan

Patrick O’Heffernan is co-host of the LA-based, nationally syndicated weekly program, Music FridayLive! and is a music reviewer for online magazines Vents, The Hollywood Progressive and MusicJunkie. He has also co-hosted a national political talk show, The Fairness Doctrine, and hosted the “Uplinks” media segment on Saturday All Things Considered on NPR. He holds a PhD in International Relations from MIT, has been awarded an Emmy, four Addy’s, and a Webby-Honors, among other awards. He has published 5 books and ghost-written others. A project he co-launched, the North Asia Nuclear Free Zone, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He serves on the Board of Netroots Nation.

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