Música en mi primer idioma: Mercedes Sosa

This time on music in my first language a profile on beloved Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa.

Haydeé Mercedes Sosa, also known as “La Negra Sosa” or “The Voice of America” was the biggest ambassador of Argentinean Folklore music around the world and one of the most important icons of popular Latin American music. She also sang tango, Rock and pop.

“Soy pan soy paz soy mas” – Mercedes Sosa

soy agua, playa, cielo, casa blanca
soy mar atlántico, viento y américa
soy un montón de cosas santas
mezclado con cosas humanas
cómo te explico? cosas mundanas.”

The lyrics in Spanish.

It translates something like

“I am water, beach, sky, white house

Atlantic ocean, wind and America

I am a bunch of sacred things

mixed with human things

How do I explain? Mundane things”

She was born in San Miguel de Tucuman, in Argentina on July 9th 1935. This day also happens to be the day Argentina celebrates her independence day. She performed Argentina´s National Anthem and left everyone speechless. Her father was a worker for the sugar industry and her mother was a woman who did the washing for rich people. She started singing when she was about 15 years old. She did it hiding it from her family because it was not considered a decent occupation.

Como la Cigarra – Mercedes Sosa


Her family and Mercedes were sympathizers of Juan Domingo Peron. Throughout her whole life she identified politically with the left, and was an active member of the communist party during the sixties. After the military cue on March 24th – 1976 she was blacklisted and her records were prohibited. She tried to remain in the country until in 1978 in the middle of a concert she was assaulted and detained along with the members of the audience. SHIT…THE THOUGHT STILL MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL WITH ANGER! Thankfully it is a different story than Victor Jara´s. After that she went into exile, first in Paris and then in Madrid. She recorded several albums in exile with her situation being present in all of them. It was very difficult for her. She also added some Brazilian songs in her albums (it was not common to have songs in Portuguese in Latin American albums back then) now, it is not strange to find them. She returned to Argentina in 1982, had to leave again and then returned in 1984 when democracy was restored.

Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón – Mercedes Sosa


Mercedes died on October 4th – 2009. I remember I was visiting my mother in Miami at the time, and it was huge news all around the local stations. (I´ve said before Miami is Latin America´s biggest city), so everyone was touched by the event. This is was her obituary in The Guardian I cannot deny I shed a tear or two. I always loved (and probably always will) love her. She came from a lower class, and was rejected because she “looked like a maid” even in her own country. Did she care? No. Did she change? No. Did she compromise her political views? No. She was just her. Authentic, loving, able to communicate the emotion the songs she performed deserved. She never sang in English. She was “The voice of America”.

Gracias A La Vida – Mercedes Sosa

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