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30 Anos - Mercedes Sosa

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Genre: World Music - Cuban & Latin / Artist: Mercedes Sosa / Audio CD released 1999-10-01 at Verve

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      27.08.2008 17:01
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      An introduction to the songs of Mercedes Sosa

      Some years ago wandering through an Art market in Buenos Aires I asked a friend to recommend a CD that would be a good introduction to Argentinian music. After making our way to a music store this CD, "30 Anos" was handed to me. It was the first time I'd heard of the singer called Mercedes Sosa.

      Mercedes Sosa is arguably Argentina's greatest and most prolific recording artist of all time. There are many CD collections of her music and it would be difficult to recommend one above the other, but "30 Anos" is a nice introduction to her music that stretches back to the early 1960s. The CD was first released in the mid 1990s.

      For many years Mercedes Sosa was known as "the voice of the silent majority" in Latin America. In her native Argentina her music is still seen as being a "symbol of life and freedom." After humble beginnings growing up in San Miguel de Tucuman, Mercedes Sosa, alongside her husband Manuel Oscar Matus and the poet Armando Tejada Gomez, was to become one of the leading lights in a movement devoted to traditional folk music and dance - the so-called "Movimiento del Nuevo Cancionero" or "New Song" movement. She was joined by other famous Latin American artists such as Violetta Parra and Atahualpa Yupanqui. There are two beautiful songs on the CD that were composed by Yupanqui: 'Luna Tucumana' and 'Duerme Negrito'. Probably the most famous song on the album - 'Gracias a la Vida' (Thanks to life) comes from the pen of the Chilean singer Violetta Parra. The song was released on his last album - Las Últimas Composiciones (1966) before he committed suicide in 1967. It is one of the most covered Latin American songs in history.

      The "Nuevo Cancionero" movement took the form of protest music that spread throughout Argentina and Chile during the 1960s. Through her music Mercedes Sosa ultimately served as a political figurehead and spokesperson for poor Argentinians. She was not shy from criticising the military dictatorship and its political oppression of opponents. Not surprisingly with her repertoire of songs promoting human rights and democracy, Sosa was seen as a threat to Argentina's military regime. By the late 60s many of her songs were banned from the radio. The "Nuevo Cancionero" movement disintegrated in 1973 shortly after the democratically-elected Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated during the infamous CIA-backed coup.

      In 1979 whilst giving a concert in La Plata, Sosa was arrested on stage along with 350 members of the audience. Such harassment and subsequent numerous death threats forced her into European exile. But this did not stop her singing and she continued to give performances on tours across Europe, North America and Brazil. While residing in Europe, she became an inspiration for musicians and singers from around the world. This period also encouraged her to broaden her repertoire by moving into new genres. On this CD you will hear famous songs written by the Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez (La Maza, Unicornio), the Brazilian singer songwriter Milton Nascimento (Maria Maria), Pablo Milanés (Años), León Gieco (Solo Le Pido A Dios, Cancion Para Carito) and Fito Páez (Dale Alegria A Mi Corazon).

      Mercedes Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982 several months before the military regime collapsed on account of its catastrophic invasion of the Falklands (Malvinas) and subsequent war with the British. She gave a series of famous concerts at the Opera Theatre in Buenos Aires. This CD includes a famous live performance of a song that was to become associated with this period. The poignant lyrics and melody of 'Solo le Pido a Dios' written by León Gieco became especially famous during the Falklands (Malvinas) war. But the song's original reference was to the suffering of the Argentinian people during the military regime: "The only thing I ask of God is that I do not become indifferent to war and the suffering of innocent people". Another song with a similar theme is Charly Garcia's "Inconciente Colectivo". It was written around this time and also seems to refer to the military terror when people were made to "disappear".

      There are some truly great songs on this album. It's difficult to choose stand-out tracks. All the songs exude quality. "My least favourite is Nascimento's "Maria Maria" - a Brazilian song that I've never really liked and for me it is strongly associated with a different culture and style. All the other songs though are pure gems. The powerful Latin Folk rendition of the opening track "La Maza" immediately takes you to another world. The breathtaking and heartfelt performance of the famous "Gracias a la Vida" is, like many if the songs, beautifully accompanied by acoustic guitar. On the rhythmic "Todo Cambia" you'll here the pan pipe music of the Andes. "Cancion Para Carito" perhaps possesses the sweetest melody on the album; "Alfonsina y el Mar" is one of the few songs to have a solo piano accompaniment. An acoustic sound is always prevalent on the album and from time to time in some tracks you'll hear intermittent background percussion, but the focus is always on Sosa's dynamic voice and vocal range.

      The CD includes six live tracks in all: the aforementioned "Solo Le Pido A Dios" and "Inconciente Colectivo"; the romantic ballad "Maria Va" sung alongside the author Antonio Tarragó Ros; "Como La Cigarra" (Like the Cicada) is a protest song written by María Elena Walsh in the early 70s; "Si Se Calla el Cantor" is another duet sung alongside Horacio Guarany. One of her most famous songs "Años" is a passionately performed song about nostalgia, reflection and time passing. It is another live track but this is not mentioned on the sleeve.

      30 Anos" presents a repertoire of classic songs from the roots of Argentine folk music to more contemporary compositions that form the soundtrack of Argentina's recent political struggles. This CD will allow you to hear Sosa's powerful and unstrained voice. With its extensive vocal range exuding expressiveness, colour and warmth - hers is perhaps one of the greatest voices of Argentinean music. Her songs are often simple compositions in which the penetrating clarity of her voice is accompanied by the sound of a single acoustic guitar, piano or mouth organ. You do not need to understand Spanish in order to admire and enjoy the power and emotion of Sosa's performances for she always sings from the heart. Mercedes Sosa is a dynamic and inspiring performer. Her music also sends a message that calls for peace, tolerance and understanding throughout the world.


      Tracks:
      1. La Maza
      2. Maria Maria
      3. Gracias A La Vida
      4. Todo Cambia
      5. Solo Le Pido A Dios
      6. Cancion Con Todos
      7. Anos
      8. Alfonsina Y El Mar
      9. Maria Va
      10. Unicornio
      11. Cancion Para Carito
      12. Luna Tucumana
      13. Hermano Dame Tu Mano
      14. Como La Cigarra
      15. Si Se Calla El Cantor
      16. Inconciente Colectivo
      17. La Arenosa
      18. Duerme Negrito
      19. Al Jardin De La Republica
      20. Dale Alegria A Mi Corazon

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 La Maza
      2 Maria Maria
      3 Gracias A La Vida
      4 Todo Cambia
      5 Solo Le Pido A Dios
      6 Cancion Con Todos
      7 Anos
      8 Alfonsina Y El Mar
      9 Maria Va
      10 Unicornio
      11 Cancion Para Carito
      12 Luna Tucumana
      13 Hermano Dame Tu Mano
      14 Como La Cigarra
      15 Si Se Calla El Cantor
      16 Inconciente Colectivo
      17 La Arenosa
      18 Duerme Negrito
      19 Al Jardin De La Republica
      20 Dale Alegria A Mi Corazon