Mercedes Sosa, “la cantora popular” symbol of the struggle against dictatorship and civil rights in Argentina, died today at age 74. Unquestionably the greatest Latin American folk music singer was hospitalised last month In Buenos Aires as a result of renal dysfunction. Here above she sings one of my favourite South American ballads.
In 60-year career, she performed all over the world, shared the stage with the most famous artists and poets such as Victor Jara, Pablo Neruda, Ignacio Villa and Atahualpa Yupanqui, she leaves an incomparable artistic heritage.
Born to underprivileged parents in San Miguel de Tucumán on July 9, 1935, Haydar Mercedes Sosa started her career at a very young age, impressing her public with passionate traditional popular songs. Eventually achieving her great success in the Sixties, in 1967 she performed in a extensive tour throughout the United States, Russia and Europe.
In 1971 she publishes “La voz de Mercedes Sosa” and “Homenaje a Violeta Parra” into which she marvellously sang the greatest hits of the famous Chilean singer, including the celebrated “Gracias a la vida”. In 1972, regardless the military oppression she released “Hasta la victoria“, a collection of clearly social and political impact plus the famous “Cantata Sudamericana” written by Ariel Ramirez (music) and Felix Luna (lyrics).
Mercedes Sosa was also considered as an icon of resistance to the tyranny in South America and after the military golpe (1976) she became a prey of military censorship. She was banned from making records and arrested while performing a concert in La Plata. In 1979 she fled to Paris and afterwards settled in Madrid (1977). During that period she wrote many songs dedicated to her country, hoping for harmony and democracy. “Todo Cambia“, “Luna Tucumana” and “Solo Le Pido a Dios” and many more soon became the anthem of the new generation of freedom lovers.
Finally back home in Argentina (1982) she assisted to the reinstatement of democracy and celebrated it with a record/documentary named “Como un pájaro libre” and since then she never stopped singing, performing, enriching her discography.
Her latest work only recently released, “Cantora – Un viaje intimo” is a double CD where Mercedes Sosa duets with South America’s leading artists, such as Julieta Venegas, Shakira, Lila Downs, Caetano Veloso, Marcela Morel, Gustavo Cerati, Jorge Drexler, Gustavo Santaolalla and many more.
The funeral service to pay homage to this greatest artist will be staged in the “Hall of Lost Footsteps” by the Argentine Congress.
I join two of the many messages posted on the site: “The world is not fair”; “Negra querida, your voice will keep following us singing”. And I prefer to remember her singing a sweet lullaby: