Q&A with Jon Secada, singer-songwriter and hepatitis C awareness advocate

Pop singer Jon Secada learned about hepatitis C when his father died from it. He comes to Capitol Hill Wednesday to speak to lawmakers about policies that can combat the spread of the disease.

In an interview with The Hill, Secada spoke about the song he wrote for his campaign on hepatitis C awareness and whether he would ever run for elected office.

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Q: What brings you to Washington?
I’ve been working with the American Liver Foundation on chronic hepatitis C. And this all came to be a result of my father passing away recently through complications dealing with chronic hepatitis C. So this campaign is a national campaign, in both English and Spanish, and I’ve learned a lot through the process of dealing with my dad’s illness and the foundation.

Chronic hepatitis C, it’s the largest blood infectious disease in the U.S. All this information, I had no idea until being a part of it, my own family issues.

The visit to D.C. is all a part of my ongoing campaign, and it’s been a very enlightening process.

One-third of all infected chronic hepatitis C cases are Hispanic Americans. It’s something that hits the Hispanic-American community very hard. So it’s a lot of education. It’s a process.

Q: What are you planning to do while here?
There’s a lot of things we have that day. I wrote a song, too, for the campaign …

The passionate side of what all this is about is my musical expression. This song is called “Your Voice Inside,” and it’s something that I wrote specifically for the purposes of the campaign and the awareness factor.

Q: Have you been to Capitol Hill before?

Yes, I have. I’ve always been a huge spokesperson for education. During the [George W.] Bush administration, I was part of a national alliance for education that dealt with Hispanic education …

Whenever I can lend a hand and be a help, especially as a Hispanic American, and especially for education — in a roundabout way, this awareness campaign deals with education, too.

Q: What’s your impression of Congress?
First and foremost, it’s overwhelming. It’s overpowering, to have that experience in and of itself. It’s always a treat.

Of course, to see what really happens in every strain of the decision-making process of our government — what a beautiful experience. And to be there to speak your mind on whatever you’re there to speak your mind on, that’s what America’s all about. It’s a tremendous experience for me every time.

Q: Are there any lawmakers in particular that you’d like to meet with?
No. I’m always, I guess, again, so passionate about just having the opportunity to meet anybody just attached to our government, because it’s just an opportunity to see and look at the people’s eyes — Republican, Democrat, whatever state they’re from — and to say what you feel. And there’s nothing like that experience, whoever it is that I’m addressing.

Q: Tell me more about the song you wrote for the campaign.
It was inspired, of course, by the campaign, and I guess my relationship with my father, and I’m a songwriter first, I’m a musician first, so musical expression for me is something that comes very natural.

At the same time, it’s a song about really reaching out first to yourself and then to other people. It says, “You’re the difference, you’re the one, you’re no compromise. Listen, can you hear it? That’s the voice inside.”

The awareness campaign is all about, first, to get to people to think that if they’re at risk of having chronic hepatitis C or know someone who is at risk, to be honest with themselves and check themselves in terms of taking action.

Q: Describe your level of involvement and interest in politics.
I’ve always been very fascinated with what politics represents. It’s a means to lobby and to get your point across, especially if you’re really passionate about something.

Q: Are you following the 2012 presidential campaign?

A little, yes.

Q: Whom do you support?
In many ways I was raised Republican through inheritance. I think it’s something that comes through the Cuban-American inherited political bloodlines, so to speak. At the end of the day, though, I’m [impressed] by any leader that, when you look in their eyes, you see if they’re going to make a difference. We live in challenging times.

So I am a believer and a follower at the end of the day of whoever’s got the strongest message that all of Americans feel, that I feel, is going to make a difference, to keep the spirit alive to create some changes.

I’m rooting for everybody that is still willing to fight, Republican or Democrat.

Q: Would you ever run for office?
A part of me would like to say yes. I don’t know if I could. I don’t know if I have enough of the foundation, realistically, to be able to do that. But I have a lot of beliefs and a lot of messages. 

Deep down inside there’s a politician in me.


For more information, and to hear Secada's song, go to www.tuneintohepc.com. The Spanish version is available at www.hepatitisctocaeltema.com.