REMEMBERING ARMIDA VALDEZ
I was stunned by the news of the passing of Armida Valdez. I has just left her a message last week about the new collaboration that her husband, Daniel Valdez, and I were envisioning for 2015, a Los Angeles concert. As always, Armida was the facilitator and planner of the event, the overseer of Danny’s career and work.
I first met Armida Valdez in 1970 when I went to San Juan Bautista, California with my then wife Gayla. My goal was to convince Danny Valdez that he should compose the music for my first long form documentary Yo Soy Chicano.
Armida met me with some suspicion. She was protective of Danny and wanted to make sure I was not out to exploit them. This was something she did all her life. Was I the real thing? Did I believe, as they did, that we Chicanos should dedicate our lives and our art for the benefit of our community? Over the course of the first of many scrumptious dinners (over decades) that I would enjoy at their home, I was able to win them over. This was, in no small part, due to the instant friendship that developed between Armida and Gayla. It was the beginning of a life long friendship for all of us. That’s when I learned that any creative collaboration with Daniel that I might want to undertake must first pass Armida’s rigorous standards.
And so began a lifetime of collaborations that included the television show America De Los Indios, the production of Daniel’s A & M album Mestizo, the documentaries Yo Soy Chicano, Amor Chicano, Somos Uno and Yo Soy, and the long forms dramas Raíces de Sangre and Seguín. Throughout it all, Armida was ever present, offering her support, wise counsel, critical eye and above all the love that we all needed to get our work done. Neither Danny nor I could have done all that we have done creatively together without the presence and support of Armida and Gayla.
When not overseeing Daniel’s career, Armida was raising three wonderful children, Emiliano, Primavera and Katrina.
Armida is not gone from us. Her memory will live in the hearts and minds of all of us who knew here as long as we live. She was a true Chicana, a true loving human being and we are all so lucky to have known her and to have basked in her wisdom, love and support.
Mi hermana, descansa en paz.
Jesús Salvador Treviño