Mejía Godoy, Carlos (1943–)
Mejía Godoy, Carlos (1943–)
Carlos Mejía Godoy is the most important singer-songwriter associated with the Sandinista revolution. Born June 27, 1943, to a musical family in Somoto in northern Nicaragua, he contemplated a career in either law or journalism. He dropped out of college after spending time in West Germany on a scholarship to pursue the life of an artist. In the late 1960s he sought to introduce lyrics into the instrumental musical styles of his patria chica on radio shows that melded storytelling and folklore. In the 1970s he lived a semi-clandestine life as a member of the Guerra Popular Prolongada (Prolonged People's War) faction of the Sandinistas, and performed his songs as an accordionist and singer in churches in poor neighborhoods. In the latter half of the decade he lived in Europe, spending much of the time in post-Franco Spain. His song "El Cristo de Palacagüina" brought him fame and notoriety for its portrayal of Jesus Christ as a guerrilla. In 1978 he composed an album of songs, Guitarra Armada (Armed guitar), with his brother, Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy. Their songs were intended to teach people practical ways to participate in the ongoing revolution. During the rebellion his songs were broadcast on the clandestine radio station Radio Sandino. In the months prior to the triumph of the Sandinistas he and his brother played before international audiences sympathetic to the struggle of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). One of his most famous works is "La Misa Campesina Nicaragüense," set to writings by peasants in the Solentiname collective of the poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal. First performed in 1976 and recorded in 1981, it outraged many for its typically Sandinista melding of Christian and revolutionary language and imagery. He was employed briefly by the ministry of culture in the Sandinista government, but left to concentrate on performing and composing.
Mejía Godoy has hosted a television show and has run a café in Managua where he and other like-minded musicians play. Following the death of the presidential candidate Henry Lewites in 2006, Mejía Godoy became the vice presidential candidate (he was not elected) for the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista, which is made up of Sandinistas who are disillusioned with the leadership of Daniel Ortega.
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Mejía Godoy, Luis Enrique. Relincho en la sangre: Relatos de un trovador errante. Managua: Anamá, 2002.
Pring-Mill, Robert. "The Roles of Revolutionary Song: A Nicaraguan Assessment." Popular Music 6, no. 2 (1987): 179-189.
Scruggs, Thomas M. "Carlos Mejía Godoy." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition. Edited by Stanley Sadie. New York: Grove, 2001.
Scruggs, Thomas M. "'Let's Enjoy as Nicaraguans': The Use of Music in the Construction of a Nicaraguan National Consciousness." Ethnomusicology 43, no. 2 (1999): 297-321.
Andrew J. Kirkendall