January 5, 2022 504 PM
MARFA — An Ojinaga singer/songwriter’s ode to the workers of Village Farms — who take a daily two-hour round-trip drive from Mexico to grow and harvest tomatoes in Marfa — is now the subject of Marfa Live Arts’ first music video.
Ramón Vega Navarro, a retired school teacher now focusing on music, sings of his allegiance to both his home state of Texas and the Mexican city of Ojinaga where he now lives in the video for “Doble Nacionalidad,” which was directed and filmed by Marfa Live Arts Director Jennie Lyn Hamilton and producer Tina Rivera. Navarro’s song was chosen by the jury of playwrights as the second-place winner of the Marfa Live Arts 2021 Short Playwriting Contest, which was open to all residents of Presidio County, Texas and Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico.
“When Marfa Live Arts received Ramón’s entry, we knew that we had to share it,” said Hamilton. “It exudes hope and is so beautiful and poignant. It pays tribute to an often overlooked but vital part of Marfa: the Village Farms workers who travel between Ojinaga and Marfa each day for work.”
The song’s lyrics not only tell of sights common to Marfa residents — the white vans that bus the workers from Ojinaga, the sunsets in the vast West Texas skies, and the fruits that are harvested by the hardworking folk that make the trek — but also delves into the minds of the workers who come to make a better life for themselves and their families.
“The song was conceived by the streets of Ojinaga,” Navarro said. “I would see how those white vans would pick people up to go to work at Village Farms, and in the afternoon, they were back. Men and women who would descend from the vans, exhausted by the daily work. I looked closely at the work they were doing, which made me believe I had to write a song that spoke of this noble, difficult and productive work that also establishes an important bond among the communities of Ojinaga, Presidio, and Marfa.” The song, he added, pays tribute to all Ojinaga workers who work in the U.S.A., whether it’s in Marfa, Odessa, or elsewhere in the country.
“Those hardworking people with that privilege of going in and out to work make us feel proud to belong to this beautiful region,” he said. In the song, he expresses the pride, courage and collaborative spirit of the workers who make the journey each day.
Navarro’s music, Hamilton added, has been his main focus since retiring after a 30-year teaching career. “He’s put all his energy into his music since he retired,” she explained. “Coming from a long line of musicians from Chínipas — a small village in Chihuahua — he is an incredibly talented storyteller. His work is full of the belief that you can achieve your dreams and build a better future.”
Navarro has been honing his musical craft since he was a child, watching his guitarist father play at parties in his hometown before picking up an instrument himself at the age of nine. “At nine years old, [the local musicians] gave me the opportunity to play and sing with them, touring neighboring towns and playing at different parties,” he explained. “At the age of 20 I started my career as a teacher and continued with musical composition process, keeping active 100 percent in music, playing at social events with different musicians from Ojinaga such as Manuel Ramírez, Gerardo Morales, Tirso Gutiérrez, Juan Manuel Domínguez, among others.”
As of today, Navarro said, he has composed around 230 songs, some with have been recorded by Conjunto Amanecer, del Maestro Vico Madrid, Conjunto Nuevo Horizonte, Sonoreños del Compa Tico, and Los Weritos de Sinaloa.
“The dream grows every day, making important steps with my music, which will be heard in the immediate future and sung by many people,” he said. “I keep dreaming I’ll keep writing good lyrics and tell beautiful stories. Music has been an essential component in my life. It’s my greatest passion.”
Navarro’s song “Madre Ranchera” can be found on the album Las 15 Canciones Más Bellas a Mamá on Spotify, with a future release for a mariachi record eyed.
The video for “Doble Nacionalidad,” which is currently still being shot, will premier in early 2022.
News of Navarro’s upcoming collaboration with Marfa Live Arts has also started making the rounds, Hamilton said, as a former student and Tejano artist in Odessa, Texas, has reached out to the organization for a possible future project. “We are certainly open to the idea,” Hamilton said.
In the meantime, Marfa Live Arts will continue to provide programs at Marfa High School with the 11th Annual Playwriting Program with Georgina Escobar returning this spring, along with the possibility of reviving the popular La Banda Music Camp in the summer of 2022.
For more information on Marfa Live Arts, past programs, and to keep up to date with the organization, please visit www.marfalivearts.org