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Gabriel Martinez wins Arizona Protest Song Contest
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(The recent Sing for Hope and Justice competition finally came to a climax and our correspondent Ramon Hernandez was on hand to cover the details.)

Gabriel Martínez’s interpretation of Jim Wahl’s “Yo Soy un Inmigrante” (“I Am An Immigant”) beat out Friday’s (9/24) night’s final Sing for Hope and Justice competition.

René René (Ornelas) took

 second place with “Hay Que Hacer Batalla” (“We Have to Make War”), Jorge Alejandro Knott placed third with “Levantar La Voz” (“Raise Your Voice”) and 12-year-old Lucia Barragan’s “Paloma de Paz” (“Peace Dove”) was the runner-up.

Their tune was the sixteenth song received – from the get-go -- during the first week of the contest and the one selected by two teams of judges over 200 entries.

What was ironic is that it was a Phoenix, Arizona-based Anglo Saxon who wrote the winning tune.
“That’s proof that not everyone in Arizona is against Mexican immigrants,” Martínez said in an interview following their win.

“Jim got obsessed with the whole immigrant thing and although he’s gringo and does not know Spanish, he wrote a song that should unite all races because we are all immigrants of God.

“I’m proud of the fact that my musicians – Wahl, John Wolfe, Rosalind Gutiérrez and Sean Ziegler – are gringos; and not all Arizona gringos are supporting SB-1070,” the operatic sounding vocalist added.

A few weeks ago, Martínez himself experienced discrimination when Arizona police stopped him, pulled out his passenger, pushed him against a wall and gave him a hard time
just because his skin was brown. Martínez, who looks Anglo, was asked if he was a coyote and would have been jailed as an accomplice had his passenger been illegal.

“That’s a shame because we (Hispanics) are not who they (police) think we are. So our song is about what our hearts and souls are trying to tell people about the situation in Arizona and that in order to grow, we need to stick together,” the Surprise, Arizona resident continued.

In regard to winning, Martínez, who has never recorded, said, “When I saw we are up against stars like Los Tres Reyes, René René and Tropa F, I didn’t think we had a chance. My talent is God-given. It’s not mine. Perhaps he gave it to me to show me his love and I have to sing for him because I want people to feel the power of God. Therefore I’m honored to have won.”

Circa 300 people attended the elite awards


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