Sunday, October 04, 2009


Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa, born on July 9,1953, in San Miguel de Tecumán in the Northwestern Argentine province of Tucuman, of mestizo descent, of French and Quechua Amerindian ancestry, was immensely popular throughout Latin America. With her roots in Argentine folk music, she became one of the preeminent exponents of nueva canción. Nicknamed "La Negra" by her fans for her long, jet-black hair, she was best known as the voice of the "voiceless ones".

In 1950, at age fifteen, she won a singing competition organized by a local radio station and was given a contract to perform for two months.
Sosa and her first husband, Manuel Óscar Matus, with whom she had one son, were key players in the mid-60s nueva canción movement (which was called nuevo cancionero in Argentina). Her first record was Canciones con Fundamento, a collection of Argentine folk songs.
In 1967, Sosa toured with great success the United States and Europe. In subsequent years, she performed and recorded extensively, broadening her repertoire to include material from throughout Latin America.

In the early 1970s, Sosa released two concept albums in collaboration with composer Ariel Ramírez and lyricist Félix Luna: Cantata Sudamericana and Mujeres Argentinas (Argentine Women). She also recorded a tribute to Chilean poet Violeta Parra.

After the military junta of Jorge Videla came to power in 1976, the atmosphere in Argentina grew increasingly oppressive. At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, along with the attending crowd. Banned in her own country, she moved to Paris and then to Madrid. Her second husband died in 1978.
Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Falklands War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, where she invited many of her younger colleagues to share the stage. A double album of recordings from these performances became an instant best seller. In subsequent years, Sosa continued to tour both in Argentina and abroad, performing in such venues as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Theatre Mogador.

Sosa's repertoire continued to broaden, and she made recordings in various styles. She collaborated frequently with many musicians such as Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Lucio Dalla, Nana Mouskouri, Joan Baez, Andrea Bocelli, Holly Near, Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Gian Marco, Konstantin Wecker, Lourdes Pérez, Nilda Fernández, Pata Negra, David Broza, Franco Battiato, Luz Casal, Ismael Serrano, Shakira & Charly Garcia. Sosa also participated in a 1999 production of Ariel Ramírez's Misa Criolla.
Sosa was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean. She won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2000 ("Misa Criolla"), 2003 ("Acústico") and 2006 ("Corazón Libre"), as well as many international awards. Her composition Balderrama is featured in the 2008 movie Che, starring Benicio Del Toro.
Suffering from recurrent endocrine and respiratory problems in later years, the 74-year-old Sosa was hospitalized in Buenos Aires on September 20, 2009. She died from an aggravation of her preexisting kidney disease on October 4, 2009, at 5:15 am.

No comments: