At 95 years old, Magín Díaz is releasing his first studio album. Writing emblematic songs like “Por El Norte Por El Sur,” “Espíritu Maligno,” and “Me Amarás,” Díaz has shaped Colombian music for the last 80+ years. However, he’s never reaped the benefits of his trailblazing work – instead facing a life full of hardships. In 2015, a group of four young Colombians – Daniel Bustos, Diego Carranza, Paola Valdivieso, and Manuel García-Orozco – sought to right this wrong. They traveled to Magín’s village and recorded his music for the first time over a series of visits. Now, the group’s turning to IndieGoGo to help them release Magín’s debut album, Orisha de la Rosa, with the world.
“We knew we had to bring him back from anonymity,” the page reads. “On these trips, we recorded what we could and found more than we could have imagined. Magín was so much more than an elderly man that sang nicely and composed songs [that] Colombians grew up with.”
From a young age, Magín planted rice, beans, and yuca to help feed his family. He never attended school, didn’t learn to read and write, and he never registered his songs, according to The City Paper. Drawing from the sounds of the coast, Díaz – who grew up near Palenque de San Basilio, the first town in the Americas settled by escaped slaves – composed explicitly Afro-Colombian music. The music industry turned its nose at costeño music, unless performed by a white artist. As Bustos explained, the artists who found success with his work became “cultural ambassadors for Colombia” around the world, but Magín remained in obscurity.
Magín recorded his album in 2015 – collaborating with Carlos Vives, Monsieur Periné, Li Saumet and 22 other musicians. Last year, he became the subject of AJ+ and Playground videos, which helped propel him to the spotlight like never before. The IndieGoGo campaign seeks to raise $12,000, so that it can print the album, with 18 specially designed postcards from visual artists. The money will also go toward improving Magín’s life. “We want to give Magín an economic helping-hand which will be invested in improving his house, his health, and so that he enjoys, without difficulties, the last years of his life,” the post adds.
Check out this moving profile below, and donate to the IndieGoGo campaign here before the February 18 deadline: