Albuquerque man Pays It 4ward to Hall of Fame pianist
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For one New Mexico man, music is everything. Now in his ‘80s, playing the piano is something Franc Chewiwie has been doing since he was four years old.
Chewiwie is spending his retirement sparking that same fire for young children in his neighborhood.
“He’s a hidden jewel in Albuquerque,” said Chris Martinez, Pay It 4ward nominator.
You’ve probably at least heard his music.
“I first heard him in 1975 in the UNM fiestas with– play with Mongo Santamaria, this congo player, and from there on in, he’s playing all over Albuquerque at various places venues for with bars and music, food scenes,” said Martinez.
The professional pianist has played concerts for thousands all over the world, and was even inducted into the New Mexico Hall of Fame in 2018.
Decades after hearing him play for the first time, Martinez says he and Chewiwie became next door neighbors, and eventually bandmates.
“Whoever shows up to jam with us, we just start jamming,” Martinez said. “Of course, now he’s getting older. You got to carry the equipment for him, and you know, help him set up everything.”
Even in Chewiwie’s retirement, music has remained an important part of his life. Now, he’s passing down what he’s learned.
“I know he’s teaching a lot of kids in the neighborhood that he goes around and goes to their house and shows them,” said Martinez. “He’s teaching all during the week lessons. Not teaching me and my daughter lessons too. He’s so busy right now with piano lessons.”
For what he’s giving to his neighborhood now, and what he’s given to the world for most of his life, Martinez called KOB 4 to give Chewiwie a little something.
Watch the video above for more.