DíesMexican Folk Musician
2019 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by Anonymous.
Juan Díes is an active, multi-instrumentalist musician—including various Mexican folk guitars, bass, percussion, vocals—a studio and live concert producer, an educator, and a storyteller. Díes, a grandchild of Spanish Civil War refugees in Mexico, grew up in San Luis Potosí and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of eighteen with his parents and his brother, who is also a musician. Díes’ father is a retired medical researcher and his mother is a visual artist. He learned to play the guitar as a child and has worked professionally in music since the early 1990s, helping to introduce thousands of people to the music and culture of Mexico.
Díes is co-founder of the two-time Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble with whom he has recorded six albums and performed over a thousand concerts in 30 different U.S. states. He holds an M.A. in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University and has devoted his professional life to presenting, researching, advocating, teaching, and performing traditional music and culture. Díes is a Distinguished Alumni at Earlham College, a United States Artists Fellow, and a Chicago Community Trust fellow. He has worked as Executive Director and producer of Sones de México Ensemble for over 25 years, a program director for the Old Town School of Folk Music and the National Museum of Mexican Art, and a consultant for the Smithsonian Institution and several U.S. state arts councils. He is currently working on establishing a school of Mexican folk music in Chicago.
Portrait photo by Ricardo Oropa.