This Land/Our Land: A chat with 16-year-old clarinetist Javier Morales-Martinez

This interview is part of This Land/Our Land, a music video project bringing together six young musicians from immigrant backgrounds to perform a new arrangement of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” The arrangement is by From the Top host Christopher O’Riley. Watch the video here.

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Despite what might be going on, music is something that can always bring people together.

Javier Morales-Martinez

Javier Morales-Martinez‘s parents immigrated from Mexico to the US approximately 25 years ago. We talked to him on our radio show, and while filming This Land/Our Land in New York City. The responses below are edited for clarity.

What was it like for your parents in Oaxaca, Mexico? 

It was very difficult for them growing up there. They wanted to leave because they wanted better opportunities. If they wanted a good high school or college, they needed to travel to the actual city, which is miles away from (their home). And it was really difficult for them because they had to start working at an early age to support their families.

What moves me about that is that they managed to get through that struggle and come here and raise me. I think what I really got from that is that I really need to work hard in order to become really somebody, you know?

How about when they first got here? What was that like?

When they first got here, they didn’t know many people. They had to start working right away, you know, wherever they could find a job. My dad started working with my grandpa. He and my mom now work at a dry cleaner. They’ve been working together for many years now. But recently, that collapsed, so we had kind of a struggle recently. My mom’s now trying to start it up again…they kind of have it running now.

Why are musical collaborations like this important?

Despite what might be going on, music is something that can always bring people together. Also, this collaboration was special for me because I felt proud to represent where I come from. Getting to work with people from different parts of the world and supporting each other to make this music video was definitely a great experience. 

How have your parents helped you become the musician you are today?

Even though they work hard and they have struggled, they always manage to support me in whatever I do, and that’s why I love them.

Listen to Javier talk more about his parents during his performance and interview on From the Top Show 331.




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