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Mercedes Sosa spread her voice throughout the Americas: ‘A thinking artist’



São Paulo – In 1950, at the age of 15, Mercedes Sosa used a pseudonym (Gladys Osorio) to participate in a contest on a radio station in San Miguel de Tucumán, an agricultural region in northwest Argentina. Overcomes inhibitions, sings Sad Estoy (by Margarita Palacios), wins the contest and wins a two-month contract. But when he gets home, his father, who did not know the story, for the first time slaps him in the face. He doesn’t want an artist daughter.

With skill, the girl’s mother, Ema, manages to convince her husband to authorize the signing of the contract, since Mercedes is a minor. But on the condition that she continues to study. The artistic career of what is considered one of the most important Latin American voices was beginning.

Powerful voice

By the way, a really strong voice: at birth, at 7 am on July 9, 1935, his screams “could be heard throughout the maternity hospital”. Mercedes was born on Argentina’s independence day, greeted with cannon shots. Ema was a washerwoman and Ernesto worked on the cane harvest. They identified with Peronism, especially with Evita, for its poor origin.

But the parents disagreed with the name of the newborn daughter. The mother preferred Marta. In turn, the father, who prevailed, chose Mercedes, after his own mother, as well as Haydeé, a close cousin. Thus, the child was baptized as Haydeé Mercedes Sosa – but Ema will spend her life calling her Marta.

Personal profile

These stories open the book Mercedes Sosa – A legend, which has just won a Portuguese version, translated by Mariana D’Angelo. The author of the work, the result of eight years of research, is the Danish teacher, now resident in Turkey, Anette Christensen. In the introduction, the writer says she does not consider having written “a complete biography” of the Argentine artist: “It is more a personal profile of her”.

The author also says that through Mercedes she started to like South America, “and I realized that the continent is very neglected by the media outside Spanish-speaking countries”. The book is available on Amazon or on request ( Watch here one book trailer. Anette dedicates the work to Fabián Matus, son of Mercedes, to the Grandmothers of Praça de Maio and to all those “who suffer from the burden of poverty, persecution, censorship, torture and any form of social injustice”.

Changes and risks

Mercedes, by the way, grew up in a region close to Bolivia and suffered indigenous influence, which helps to explain why she also became an interpreter of folk music. But the influences were many, as he mentioned, even Bossa Nova and Milton Nascimento’s “jazz”. “My career has been a constant search, not for applause, but for a personal musical journey involving changes and risks”, he declared.

Brazilian readers may miss stories involving artists here. Like Milton himself, for example, with whom Mercedes made a recording always remembered Back to 17, from Chilean Violeta Parra. But the book brings testimonials by singer Maria Rita, daughter of Elis Regina, and also singer Fagner, who shared the microphone with Mercedes in Years.

Dictatorship and threats

The political side of the artist’s work is extensively explored in the book. Mercedes had a brief connection with the Communist Party, but she paraded shortly afterwards – despite this, she continued to be seen as a “communist threat”, even more so during the Argentine dictatorship. “I was assigned this role as a great challenger, but it is not at all. I’m just a thinking artist. Politics has always been an idealistic thing for me. I am a left-wing woman, but I do not belong to any party, and I think artists should remain independent from any and all political parties. I believe in human rights. ”

Mercedes gave up on a marriage to “a rich man” to stay with Manuel Oscar Matus, composer and guitarist, with whom he married in 1957. The following year, Fabián was born, who would be the singer’s only son. The couple, like so many, was strongly influenced by the movement known as Nueva Canción, which left Chile and spread throughout the region, joining folk roots and social denunciation.

This engagement makes Mercedes a target of the dictatorship installed in 1976. Before a concert, she receives a letter signed by the feared Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, known as Triple A: an ultimatum to leave the country or “accept the consequences”. She performs at the theater in Buenos Aires and is convinced by her partner, Francisco Pocho Mazzitelli (he had separated from his first husband), also his manager, to return home on foot. They are followed throughout the journey. “It was a Saturday night. I’ll never forget. During this journey, I learned what fear is. ”

Personal losses

Thus, already in the democratic period, documents will show that his name was part of a list of people considered “dangerous” for the authoritarian regime, formally ended in 1983. “I always sang sincere songs about love, peace and injustice. Unfortunately, some people feel threatened by the truth, ”says Mercedes on another occasion.

With 158 pages, the book (publisher Tektime) also brings personal dramas experienced by her. When she becomes pregnant a second time, for example, she decides not to have her child due to the difficult conditions she faced at the time. According to the writer, Mercedes did not regret it, but she always felt guilty. “She then embarks on a lifelong journey, becoming a spokesperson for women’s rights. In 1995, she was honored for her work when receiving the UNIFEM United Nations Award ”, writes the author, referring to the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

In early 1978, two events marked the life of Mercedes. A great friend, Jorge Cafrune, who helped her early in her career, publicly admits singing a song prohibited by the dictatorship and dies of being hit by a car a few days later. Two weeks later, Pocho dies of a brain tumor.

Prison, exile, loneliness

Mercedes is even arrested during a show for students in La Plata. She leaves Argentina, spends a few years in Europe. He settled in Spain in 1979. “Exile is a punishment, the worst type of punishment. My son helped me to come from France to Madrid and helped me buy the house. The day he returned to Argentina I was on my own, completely alone. The worst kind of loneliness you can imagine. ”

Upon his return to the country, a presentation in Buenos Aires becomes a kind of landmark of the return to democracy. In front of a crowd, she sings a Spanish version of Moonlit Viola (from brothers Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle, known in Milton’s voice), When tenga la tierra (who had caused his arrest years before), All Cambia (from Chilean Julio Numhauser Navarro). A disc and a film were recorded there, released in 1983, with the appropriate name Like a free bird.

Over the years, it becomes the “legend” mentioned in the title. Or “the voice of those who have no voice”. La Negra (reference to hair and Andean origins), as it is known, remains remembered in the face of the injustices that still affect the region on a daily basis. His last album, Cantora, was recorded in 2008, with several special participations, including Brazilian ones (Caetano Veloso and Daniela Mercury). The following year, he won the Latin Grammy (Best Folk Album).

With several health problems, Mercedes left at 5:15 am on October 4, 2009, at the age of 74. The son Fabián answered his last request: his ashes were scattered in Tucumán, Mendoza and Buenos Aires. He remained at the head of the Mercedes Sosa Foundation until he died in March 2019. Granddaughter Araceli took over the organization.

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Argentina extends border closure with Brazil




Opera Mundi – Argentina decided on Sunday (28) to extend the deadline for closing air and land borders with Brazil until March 12, extending the previous decree that determined that they should reopen as of this Monday (1st) ).

Argentine health authorities considered it necessary to maintain the blockade at the borders and a 50% reduction in flights between the two countries.

The country is also closed to foreigners from other neighboring countries and the United Kingdom. Only Argentineans or residents can enter.

According to the Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, the measure is taken “in a preventive manner until knowledge about the new Brazilian variant of the virus deepens”.

Brazil has been experiencing the worst moment of the covid-19 pandemic in recent weeks. The moving average of deaths in the last seven days broke a new record and reached 1,180. With 50,840 new diagnoses registered in one day, the number of cases in the country is already over 10.5 million.

Vaccination in Argentina

While seeing its neighbor in the worst scenario of the pandemic, Argentina is advancing in vaccination against covid-19. There are already more than 903 thousand doses applied.

This week, the Argentine laboratory Richmond announced a partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to start producing the Sputnik V vaccine nationwide.

On the night of last Friday (26), Argentina received 96 thousand doses of the Sinopharm vaccine against covid-19. According to the Minister of Health, these doses have already started to be distributed on Saturday.

* With Sputnik

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