For the past few years, Carlos R. Cantu, 75, has worked toward bringing recognition to the music of Narciso Delgado. The City of McAllen is now on board to pay tribute to the legendary musician.
Delgado, who resided in McAllen from 1935 until his death in 1977, composed many memorable canciones. The multi-instrumentalist performed in a variety of bands, including his own orchestra. Cantu and several others believe Delgado is the legitimate composer of “Nochecita.”
In March 2013, Cantu explained to me what he wanted to do in order to preserve the memory of Delgado. Everything has fallen in place since then.
One day last year, Cantu noticed a man painting a mural on the corner of 10th Street and Redwood Avenue. The artist introduced himself as Ernesto Macias, originally from Cuba. The two discussed Cantu's idea for a Delgado mural, and they came to an agreement.
While most of the funding came from Delgado's daughter Imelda, Cantu said he also received three anonymous donations to help with the project. People interested in the mural can check it out at the corner of 17th Street and Fresno Avenue in McAllen.
"It's across from where Narciso and his family lived for about 11 years," Cantu said. "There used to be a lot of little neighborhoods in the city, back in the old days. That's why we wanted to put it there."
The City of McAllen will honor Delgado’s life and music at 5 p.m. Monday, March 24, in the commission chambers at city hall. Delgado's music will be playing downstairs in the lobby before the city meeting gets underway. Cantu said March 24 will be declared "Narciso Delgado Day."
"They will announce some of his accomplishments (at the meeting)," Cantu said. "(Also they will talk about) his other profession, which was the grocery business that he was involved with. He had a neighborhood grocery store for many years on Date Palm (Avenue) and 21st (Street). He helped employ a lot of people including (former McAllen mayor) Leo Montalvo."
Many guests will be in attendance at city hall that day, including Imelda Delgado, Noé Pro, Rene and Minnie Sandoval. Plans for a reception afterward are currently being scheduled.
The final item that Cantu and I discussed last year, was the possibility of Delgado's name being added to a street in McAllen. According to him, this has now been finalized.
"They have agreed to add his name to Fresno Avenue, at least (at) 17th Street," Cantu said. "When they do the proclamation next week, they are supposed to announce that."
Cantu believes that younger people will become more aware of Delgado after next week's ceremony. He does not plan to stop with Delgado, as he intends to champion many other local musicians in the future.
"I thought it would nice to begin with Narciso, because he's long past due," Cantu said. "We are going to start honoring other musicians; we are trying to find a way to do it."