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Obit: Mercedes Sosa-voice of LatinAmerica Oct 2009

Desert Dancer 04 Oct 09 - 04:21 PM
Desert Dancer 04 Oct 09 - 04:22 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Oct 09 - 05:05 PM
Thomas Stern 04 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM
sing4peace 04 Oct 09 - 09:29 PM
Maryrrf 04 Oct 09 - 10:02 PM
open mike 05 Oct 09 - 01:10 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Oct 09 - 01:30 AM
bankley 06 Oct 09 - 10:10 AM
Amos 14 Oct 09 - 04:37 PM
Joe Offer 03 Sep 10 - 05:11 AM
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Subject: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 04:21 PM

Mercedes Sosa, Argentine Folk Singer, Is Dead at 74

Published: October 4, 2009

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, the "voice of Latin America" whose music inspired opponents of South America's brutal military regimes and led to her forced exile in Europe, died Sunday, her family said. She was 74.

Her remains lay in state at the National Congress, where thousands of people -- many with flowers or Argentine flags -- lined up to pay respects to one of the region's most iconic voices.

"She was the best ambassador the country ever had," said Clara Suarez, 63, holding a bouquet of white flowers outside the Congress.

Sosa was best known for signature tunes such as "Gracias a la Vida" ("Thanks to Life") and "Si se Calla el Cantor" ("If the Singer is Silenced"). She had been in the hospital for more than two weeks with liver problems and had since been suffering from progressive kidney failure and cardiac arrest.

Her latest album, "Cantora 1," is nominated for three prizes in next month's Latin Grammy awards in Las Vegas, including album of the year and best folkloric album.

Affectionately dubbed "La Negra" or "The Black One" by fans for her mixed Indian and distant French ancestry, Sosa was born July 9, 1935, to a poor, working-class family in the sugarcane country of northwest Tucuman province.

Early on she felt the allure of popular traditions and became a teacher of folkloric dance.

At the age of 15, friends impressed by her talent encouraged Sosa to enter a local radio contest under the pseudonym "Gladys Osorio." She won a two-month contract with the broadcaster -- the first of many accolades over a career that continued until her final days.

"I didn't choose to sing for people," Sosa said in a recent interview on Argentine television. "Life chose me to sing."

By the 1970s she was recognized as one of the South American troubadours who gave rise to the "nuevo cancionero" (New Songbook) movement -- singers including Chile's Victor Jara and Violeta Parra, Argentina's Victor Heredia and Uruguay's Alfredo Zitarrosa who mixed leftist politics with poetic musings critical of the ruling juntas and their iron-fisted curtailment of civil liberties and human rights abuses.

In 1972, Sosa released the socially and politically charged album "Hasta la Victoria" ("Till Victory"). Her sympathies with communist movements and support for leftist parties attracted close scrutiny and censorship at a time when blending politics with music was a dangerous occupation -- Jara was tortured and shot to death by soldiers following Chile's 1973 military coup.

In 1979, a year after being widowed from her second husband, Sosa was detained along with an entire audience of about 200 students while singing in La Plata, a university city hit hard by military rule.

"I remember when they took me prisoner," she told The Associated Press in late 2007. "I was singing for university kids who were in the last year of veterinary school. It wasn't political."

She walked free 18 hours later under international pressure and after paying a $1,000 fine, but was forced to leave her homeland.

"I knew I had to leave," Sosa told the AP. "I was being threatened by the Triple A (a right-wing death squad that terrorized suspected dissidents during the 1976-83 military junta). The people from the navy, the secret services were following me."

With three suitcases and a handbag she headed to Spain, then France, becoming a wandering minstrel. Her pianist and musical director, Popi Spatocco, said exile was exceedingly harsh for a woman who loved Argentina.

Sosa returned home to wide acclaim in 1982 in the final months of the dictatorship, which she would ultimately outlive by a quarter-century.

The following year she released the eponymous album "Mercedes Sosa," which contained several tracks considered among her greatest hits: "Un Son para Portinari" and "Maria Maria"; along with "Inconsciente Colectivo" by Charly Garcia; "La Maza" and "Unicornio" by Silvio Rodriguez; "Corazon Maldito" by Violeta Parra; and "Me Yoy pa'l Mollar," together with Margarita Palacios.

Late in life, with South America's military regimes consigned to the dustbin of history, Sosa remained relevant by tapping powerful, universal emotions, singing about stopping war and ending poverty, about finding love and losing loved ones.

"There's no better example of artistic honesty," her nephew and fellow singer Chucho Sosa said in 2007. "Her songs reflects how she is in life."

Sosa won Latin Grammy Awards for Best Folk Album for "Misa Criolla" in 2000, "Acustico" in 2003 and "Corazon Libre" in 2006.

She also acted in films such as "El Santo de la Espada" ("The Knight of the Sword"), about Argentine independence hero Gen. Jose de San Martin.

All told, Sosa recorded more than 70 albums; the latest, a double CD titled "Cantora 1" and "Cantora 2," is a collection of folkloric classics performed with contemporary Latin American and Spanish stars such as Shakira, Fito Paez, Julieta Venegas, Joaquin Sabina, Lila Downs and Calle 13.

The vigil will continue until midday Monday, her brother Orlando Sosa said, then her remains will be cremated.

The city of Buenos Aires suspended all artistic activities Sunday, including postponing celebrations of the fact that the tango was declared part of the world's cultural heritage by the United Nations last week.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 04:22 PM

Sorry, the subject line is my typo - should be "Latin America", not only "Latina America" -- fix requested!

~ Becky in Tucson

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 05:05 PM

A sad loss of a fabulous singer.

Her web site: Mercedes Sosa (one of very few non-English singers I have bookmarked), has a brief note on her death.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 09:21 PM

There is also a DVD released in the US by KULTUR
Three Worlds, Three Voices, One Vision
"America's Joan Baez, Argentina's Mercedes Sosa, and Germany's Konstantin Wecker combine their considerable talents to bring three musical worlds together at a concert in the Roman Amphitheatre in the German city of Xanten. One idea, one motivation ...    Full Descriptionbinds them together."

Three Voices

Best wishes, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: sing4peace
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 09:29 PM

Gracias a la Mercedes...

rest in peace hermana,

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Maryrrf
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 10:02 PM

I've been a fan of Mercedes Sosa since I first heard her in the 70's. A strong woman with a powerful voice. She will be missed.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: open mike
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 01:10 PM

more info here:

and here:

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:30 AM

My first link was from the NY Times, but it was the A.P. press release. Here's the Times' obituary:

Mercedes Sosa, Who Sang of Argentina's Turmoil, Dies at 74

Published: October 5, 2009

Mercedes Sosa, the Argentine folk singer whose politically charged repertory, sung in a powerful, earthy and impassioned alto voice, led her to be known throughout Latin America as "the voice of the voiceless," died early Sunday in Buenos Aires. She was 74.

Ms. Sosa had been admitted to a hospital in the Argentine capital two weeks ago, suffering from kidney disease and with liver and lung problems. Her death was announced on her Web site and by her son, Fabián Matus, who said: "Mercedes Sosa has lived her 74 years to the fullest. She did practically everything that she wanted to do."

In a career that spanned 60 years, Ms. Sosa became revered as both a victim of and a commentator on the political and social turmoil that afflicted her country and the rest of the continent. She was one of the pioneers of the "Nueva Canción" or "New Song" movement, a style of socially conscious music drawing on folk elements that first flowered in the 1960s, and enjoyed her biggest commercial success and political influence interpreting songs from that genre, like Violeta Parra's "Gracias a La Vida" and Horacio Guarany's "If the Singer Is Silenced."

"Mercedes Sosa is synonymous with struggle, resistance and freedom," the newspaper Clarín, Argentina's leading daily, stated in an online tribute to the singer that will also be part of a special section to be published on Monday. "Traditional and modern, rural and worldly, rough and sophisticated, she was nothing more and nothing less than the most important Argentine singer in history."

Haydée Mercedes Sosa was born in Tucumán, in northwestern Argentina, on July 9, 1935, the daughter of a day laborer and a washerwoman, and grew up in poverty. One of her grandfathers was a French immigrant, while the other was a Quechua-speaking Indian, and that mestizo background extended to her music, which drew upon and mixed both the Andean and the European song traditions.

Ms. Sosa's career began at the age of 15 when, singing a song called "I'm Sad" under a pseudonym, she won an amateur hour competition on a local radio station. It was not until 1962, however that she recorded her first full-length album. Over the next decade, Ms. Sosa, also known as La Negra because of her dark hair and Indian features, became more and more popular throughout South America, thanks both to her resonant, expressive voice and to her reliance on songs that commented on the problems and issues of the day.

But after the military seized power in Argentina in 1976 and installed a murderous dictatorship, Ms. Sosa, who was publicly identified with parties of the left, began having political problems and found many of her songs banned from the radio. She complained of being harassed, followed and threatened by police, military and paramilitary forces, and after she was arrested in 1979 and released following international protests, she went into exile, first in Spain and then in France.

She was able to go back to Argentina in 1982, as the hold of the Armed Forces was weakening. But Ms. Sosa's musical tastes had broadened during her years in exile, and after her return she became an early advocate of and mother figure for a new generation of singer-songwriters whose roots were more in rock 'n' roll and international pop than traditional or folk music. She quickly added songs by future stars like Charly García and Fito Páez to her repertory, giving their careers and music both credibility and an important commercial boost. She continued to champion emerging young talent until her death.

Ms. Sosa was married to a musician, Manuel Óscar Matus, for eight years, and later lived with Pocho Mazzitelli, who was also her manager, until his death in 1978. Fabián Matus is her only child.

As her international renown expanded, Ms. Sosa seized on opportunities to collaborate with performers outside of Latin America, like Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Nana Mouskouri and Joan Baez. After touring with Ms. Sosa in Europe in the late 1980s, Ms Baez described her as "monumental in stature, a brilliant singer with tremendous charisma who is both a voice and a persona."

"I have never seen anything like her," Ms. Baez added. "As far as performers go, she is simply the best."

This year, Ms. Sosa released a two-CD set called "Cantora," or "Singer," that featured her in duets with more than a dozen Latin American and Spanish singer-songwriters, some of them young enough to be her grandchildren. The roster of participants is a who's who of contemporary Latin American pop, including Shakira, Julieta Venegas, Caetano Veloso, Joan Manuel Serrat, Joaquín Sabina, Gustavo Cerati, Jorge Drexler and Calle 13. An accompanying DVD has also been released, but hopes for a tour had to be abandoned because of Ms. Sosa's declining health.

"Cantora" has been nominated for three 2009 Latin Grammy Awards, including best album and best folk recording. Ms. Sosa, who recorded more than 70 albums and CDs, won the Latin Grammy for best folk recording three times, in 2000, 2003 and 2006, and has from the start been considered a favorite to win again at this year's ceremony, which is to be held in Las Vegas in November.

In recognition of her status as "the nation's most beloved voice," as Clarín put it, on Sunday afternoon Ms. Sosa's body was lying in state at the Argentine Congress building in Buenos Aires. According to Argentine press reports, her body is to be cremated on Monday in a private ceremony.

Outside the Congress building on Sunday, long lines of fans, ranging from artists who admired and copied her to the ordinary people who flocked to her concerts, waited to pay their last respects. "Thank you Negra, for your singing and your struggle," read the placard one man held aloft.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latina America'
From: bankley
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 10:10 AM

RIP to a great lady with strong convictions

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa, 'voice of Latin America'
From: Amos
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 04:37 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Oct 4, 2009 (AFP) - Thousands of fans bade a tearful farewell to iconic Latin American folk singer and activist Mercedes Sosa, who died Sunday at the age of 74.

Massive crowds jostled to have a chance to pay their last respects to the Argentine-born singer as her remains were lying in repose at the National Congress building in Buenos Aires late Sunday.

Sosa, who had been suffering from various kidney and lung diseases, had been in intensive care at the hospital since September 18.

"She is a symbol of people struggling not only in Argentina but around the world," said a teary-eyed Carlos Carreiro, 54.

Nicknamed "La Negra" because of her jet-black hair, Sosa was one of the leading exponents of the "Nueva Cancion," a musical style that combined ballads with folkloric instruments, with lyrics that often combined romantic themes and social issues.

During her long career that saw her produce 40 albums, Sosa collaborated with musicians ranging from Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Joan Baez to Latin stars such as Shakira, Caetano Veloso and Joan Manuel Serrat.

"She had the greatest voice, and she had the greatest heart for understanding suffering," Shakira said in a statement through her Bogota office.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Mercedes Sosa 1935-2009
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 05:11 AM

I came across the Washington Post obituary today, and I thought it was worth posting.
    Grammy Winner Fused Folk Music With Social Justice

    By Adam Bernstein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Mercedes Sosa, an Argentine singer who emerged as an electrifying voice of conscience throughout Latin America for songs that championed social justice in the face of government repression, died Oct. 4 at a medical clinic in Buenos Aires. She was 74 and had liver, kidney and heart ailments.

    With a rich contralto voice, Ms. Sosa was foremost a compelling singer whose career spanned five decades. She performed with entertainers as varied as rock star Sting, Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés and folk singer Joan Baez, who said she was so moved by Ms. Sosa's "tremendous charisma" and emotive firepower that she once dropped to her knees and kissed Ms. Sosa's feet.

    Ms. Sosa's towering artistry, which led to several Latin Grammy Awards, belied her physical dimensions. Short, round, dark-skinned and often dressed in peasant clothing, Ms. Sosa was affectionately nicknamed "La Negra" (the Black One) as an homage to her indigenous ancestry.

    It was a term of endearment that followed her throughout the Spanish-speaking world, said ethnomusicologist Jonathan Ritter, who has written about Ms. Sosa. "It's hard to overestimate her popularity and importance as a standard-bearer of folk music and political engagement through folk music," he said.

    Ms. Sosa once declared that "artists are not political leaders. The only power they have is to draw people into the theater." While not defining herself as a political activist, Ms. Sosa asserted herself in the "nueva canción" musical movement of the 1960s and 1970s that blended traditional folk rhythms with politically charged lyrics about the poor and disenfranchised.

    This "new song" movement, formed by singers, poets and songwriters with Marxist leanings, cast light on the struggle against government brutality and the plight of the downtrodden throughout the hemisphere.

    Ritter said that many of the nueva canción songs favored by Ms. Sosa "drew upon the rich heritage of Latin American poetry and literature to score their political messages." This, he said, gave it a far-more enduring fascination than protest songs in the United States during that period, whose "blunt, direct lyrics were part of their political efficacy, but also limited their long-term poetic appeal."

    Here are the lyrics of "We're Still Singing," which she sang accompanied by the large Andean drum called the bombo:

    "I was killed a thousand times. I disappeared a thousand times, and here I am, risen from the dead. . . . Here I am, out of the ruins the dictatorship left behind. We're still singing."

    Ms. Sosa came under harassment and intimidation by the right-wing, nationalist junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The government was responsible for the deaths and disappearances of an estimated 30,000 real and perceived leftists, and Ms. Sosa transformed her sold-out concerts into rallies against the abuses of power.

    Her songs were banned from Argentine radio and television, and she courted arrest by singing anthems of agrarian reform such as "When They Have the Land" at one performance in the university city of La Plata. Many in attendance were arrested by security forces, and Ms. Sosa was publicly humiliated by an officer who walked onstage and conducted a body search.

    Ms. Sosa scheduled more concerts in the face of threats against her. They were subsequently canceled when anonymous bomb threats were called in. The military governor of Buenos Aires prohibited her from further performances. Unable to earn a living or speak out as an opponent of the regime, she moved in exile to Europe in 1979 and lived for three years in France and Spain.

    She recalled this as a dark period for her artistically, and at times her voice failed. "It was a mental problem, a problem of morale," she told the New York Times. "It wasn't my throat, or anything physical. When you are in exile, you take your suitcase, but there are things that don't fit. There are things in your mind, like colors and smells and childhood attitudes, and there is also the pain and the death you saw. You shouldn't deny those things, because to do so can make you ill."

    Ms. Sosa returned to Argentina shortly before the dictatorship crumbled, and she found that her popularity had risen to a dramatic new peak. At home, her concerts attracted tens of thousands of ticket buyers, and her albums sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

    Abroad, she was a star attraction as well, and a political celebrity. She received a 10-minute standing ovation for a 1987 concert at Carnegie Hall and received ecstatic reviews when appearing in other major American cities, including Boston and Washington. She broadened her repertoire to include rock, pop and cabaret songs, always sung in her native language.

    Esquire magazine noted, "Your Spanish may or may not be good, but Mercedes Sosa requires no translation. Hers is the song of all those who have overcome their fear of singing out."

    Haydée Mercedes Sosa was born July 9, 1935, in San Miguel de Tucumán in rural northwestern Argentina. She was of mixed Indian and French ancestry, and her parents were day laborers.

    She said the geography and culture of the area were also crucial to her development. It was desolate, with far greater influence from the indigenous culture of nearby Bolivia than distant, cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. She called it "an advantage for someone who wanted to be a folk singer," and at 15, she won a local radio station's amateur-hour contest.

    In the late 1950s, she and her first husband, guitarist Manuel Oscar Matus, with whom she had a son, moved to Mendoza, a city at the foot of the Andes. There, they helped form the new-music movement that fused folk rhythms with the language and politics of the moment and wrote an artistic manifesto as well. Her international touring career followed her appearance at an important folklore festival in Cosquín in 1965.

    Not a songwriter, she was a keen interpreter of others' works. The Chilean writer Violeta Parra was responsible for Ms. Sosa's signature song, "Gracias a la Vida" (Thanks to Life), a number more nostalgic than political. Ms. Sosa collaborated on two acclaimed albums in the early 1970s with composer Ariel Ramírez and lyricist Félix Luna on the albums "Cantata Sudamericana" (South American Cantata) and "Mujeres Argentinas" (Argentine Women).

    She received a Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2000 for Ramírez's "Misa Criolla," for "Acústico" in 2003 and for "Corazón Libre" in 2006. She continued to win over younger audiences by incorporating the music of rock singer-songwriters such as Argentina's Charly García and Sting, whose song "They Dance Alone" paid tribute to the mothers of the disappeared in Chile.

    "Music can't solve problems," Ms. Sosa told The Washington Post. "Human beings have to resolve their own problems. But music can console people who suffer from problems, and perhaps it can inspire people to try to solve their problems. Singers have to sing whatever they believe in. They have to stay true to themselves. These are the songs I believe in, so I have to keep singing them."

    © 2009 The Washington Post Company

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