“Mostly what I learned was how not to be Mexican,” said Sedano, a Discovery Bay resident. “I always felt like an outcast.”
The youngest of five children of Mexican parents, Sedano grew up in the predominately white neighborhood of Hacienda Heights. Her father was a binge alcoholic, and her mother, while proud of her Mexican heritage, did not always openly embrace it. It was years before Sedano came to appreciate, understand and ultimately honor her roots in the form of her first published work.
“I Have a Cousin Who Plays Guitar” is Sedano’s self-published story of her life, the struggles she underwent as a Mexican-American and her journey to the peaceful place she’s at today.
“Whenever you would ask my father for something, whatever it might be,” said Sedano, “if he didn’t have it he would say, ‘I can’t give you anything, but … I have a cousin who plays guitar.’ So that became the title of my book.”
The cousin is Saulo Sedano Chavira, one third of the famous trio Los Tres Diamantes, the groundbreaking Mexican group formed in 1948 in Mexico City. The group would go on to gain international fame for their trademark traditional Mexican music and today remain the longest-running group of its kind.
And while the book is named for Sedano’s second cousin, the story is more about her father and immediate family. But Sedano felt a strong pull to honor her famous cousin as well, and recently completed a documentary on Chavira’s storied life: “Asi Es Mi Vida” (“So Is My Life”). The film airs in a series of private showings at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Aug. 3.
“I am so excited about this premiere,” said Sedano. “Growing up, we never knew how famous he was, and I can’t believe I didn’t know anything about him. He has an amazing story.”
The documentary highlights Chavira’s career, which took him around the world to meet kings and queens, celebrities and athletes. Today at the age of 88, Chavira is still spry and looks forward, said Sedano, to the showing of the film. “He still gets asked to attend events and he gets all dressed up and picks a little on the guitar,” said Sedano. “He is so wonderful and I really wanted to do something to honor him. We owe that to him.”
For Sedano, the artistic outlet has proven a cathartic undertaking for the little girl who grew up ashamed of her background but ultimately came to honor her heritage.
“These projects have connected me with my roots and have allowed me to embrace who I am,” said Sedano, who is pursuing her doctorate in social and community services. “I am finally proud of who I am.”
Sedano’s book is available through Amazon.com and PublishAmerica.net. For more information or to purchase tickets for the screening of her documentary, call 951-331-1264.