Singer and songwriter Juan Barco, born in Lytle, Texas, brings an enormous wealth of experience to the Tejano folk music for which he is so well-known in the Northwest and his native Texas.

His songs are colored by his childhood experiences in the migrant labor camps of the South and the Midwest, his service in the military at the Army Firing Range in Yakima, his rich musical family background, and by his twenty years as a caseworker for the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services.

Although he has lived in Seattle since 1974, Barco still feels a close affinity with the Texas of his youth, and claims to still love Texas. “I’m a Tejano and I’m happy when I get to go there. I think so much of Texas and I always remind myself and my family that it is our roots.”

Barco’s corridos often recall many of these influences, which often serve as the inspiration for his songs, such as his No Te Raches Maria, which chronicles his sister’s struggles to overcome domestic violence, poor-health, and the loss of her job. Allí Lo Espera, or “There She Waits” recalls the story of an old woman in a nursing home who is always waiting for her family to visit.

A sense of place, purpose, honor, dignity and responsibility are qualities that pervade much of Barco’s work. As Barco says, “I guess writing songs from experiences and people I know is my way of giving back to them. I’ve written songs about our old home in Texas, about my family and friends. It’s like a picture, or chapters in a book.”

Barco was one of the participants of Jack Straw’s Traditional Artist Support Program.

Sound Clips
  • Black and white photo of Juan Barco playing acoustic guitar, standing in front of a microphone.
    Artscape: Juan Barco