Artist Profiles: Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa was born July 9, 1935, in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina. She was honored throughout the world as “The Voice of Latin America” and revered in her native Argentina as “a symbol of life and freedom,” Mercedes Sosa was a dynamic, inspiring figure, and one of the most versatile artists on the world music scene. Sosa was also widely known for her message of peace, international integration, defense of human rights and artistic and personal integrity.

After humble beginnings growing up in San Miguel de Tucuman, Mercedes Sosa spearheaded a traditional music and dance movement with her husband called Nuevo Cancionero which declared the materialization of protest music across Argentina and Chile. She served as a political figure of sorts by speaking out for the poor Argentines against military dictatorship and oppressive conditions.

In 1966, Sosa recorded Yo no canto por cantar, beginning a 33 year career with PolyGram Records while continuing to record political music banned from radio broadcasts. Viewed as a serious threat to Argentina’s military regime, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage at a concert in La Plata in 1979. After receiving a series of death threats she was forced into exile seeking refuge in Paris and Madrid, Spain, where she finally settled, but persisted touring the United States, Europe and Brazil.

Sosa made a triumphant return to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Malvines (Falklands) War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera Theater in Buenos Aires. A live double album made up from these performances became an instant best seller.

In 2005 she released Corazon Libre, produced by renowned musician, vocalist and arranger “Chango” Farias Gómez with Jorge Giuliano (her long-time accompanist) contributing his talents along with leading folk guitarists Luis Salinas, Eduardo Falu, and Alberto Rojo.

Using only simple acoustic guitar arrangements to accompany her legendary vocal style, Sosa went back to her roots and captured the spirit and soul of her homeland. The album contains folk-repertoire classics like “Zamba de Argamonte” and “Tonada del viejo amor,” but focused mainly on contemporary songs by Argentine poets and songwriters, whose lyrical and melancholy verses express a great connection with nature. “Todo Cambia” (Everything Changes), a new version of one of her biggest hits, is a very brave and meaningful song that has turned into a Latin American hymn as voiced by Sosa.

The songs also told of the “suffering earth,” the “forgotten street children,” “lost love,” and the escape into music: “Sometimes I sing ‘Milongas’ when it seems like life won’t go on.” The cover art for the album continued the simplistic theme of the album. It was drawn by friend and fan Joan Baez who gave it to Mercedes Sosa as a gift in 1988.

Through the years she continued to impress fans and critics alike. Mercedes Sosa also won two Latin Grammy Awards in the Best Folk Album category: Misa Criolla (2000) and Acustico (2003).

Mercedes Sosa died October 4, 2009 in Buenos Aires of liver disease. She was 74.

Discography

* Canciones con fundamento (Polygram/Universal, 1965)
* Yo no canto por cantar (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Hermano (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Para cantarle a mi gente (Polygram/Universal, 1967)
* Con sabor a Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1968)
* Mujeres argentinas (Polygram/Universal, 1969)
* Navidad con Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* El grito de la tierra (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* Homenaje a Violeta Parra (Polygram/Universal, 1971)
* Hasta la victoria (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Cantata Sudamericana (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Traigo un pueblo en mi voz (Polygram/Universal, 1973)
* A que florezca mi pueblo (Polygram/Universal, 1975)
* En direccion del viento (Polygram/Universal, 1976)
* Mercedes Sosa interpreta a Atahualpa Yupanqui (Polygram/Universal, 1977)
* Serenata para la tierra de uno (Polygram/Universal, 1979)
* A quien doy (Polygram/Universal, 1980)
* Gravado ao vivo no Brasil (Polygram, 1980)
* Mercedes Sosa en Argentina (Polygram/Universal, 1982)
* Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Como un pajaro libre (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Recital (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Sera Posible El Sur (Polygram/Universal, 1984)
* Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazon (Polygram/Universal, 1985)
* Mercedes Sosa ’86 (Polygram/Universal, 1986)
* Mercedes Sosa ’87 (Polygram/Universal, 1987)
* Amigos Mios (Polygram/Universal, 1988)
* En vivo en Europa (Polygram/Universal, 1990)
* De Mi (Polygram/Universal, 1991)
* 30 Años (Polygram/Verve, 1993)
* Sino (Polygram/Universal, 1993)
* Gestos de Amor (Polygram/Universal, 1994)
* Disco de Oro (Polygram/Universal, 1995)
* Escondido en Mi Pais (Polygram/Universal, 1996)
* Alta fidelidad (Mercury/Universal, 1997)
* Al Despertar (Mercury/Universal, 1998)
* Misa Criolla (2000)
* Acustico (Sony Discos, 2002)
* Corazon Libre (Philips/Edge Music/Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics, 2005)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. He was also the executive producer of the first Latino feature film made in North Carolina titled “Los sueños de Angélica.”.

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