Mercedes Sosa (born 9 July 1935, died 3 October 2009 in Buenos Aires) was an Argentine singer inmensely popular throughout Latin America. With her roots in argentine folk music, she became one of the preeminent exponents of nueva trova (new song). Sosa is greatly admired for the depth and beauty of her contralto voice. She is respectfully nicknamed "La Negra" by her fans for her dark skin and dark hair - a very common term of affection in Latin America. Mercedes Sosa was loved and known by everyone in Argentina, especially for her political positions against the government that ruled the country and "disappeared" or murdered anyone suspected of being critical.
Sosa was born in Tucumán, a northwestern province of Argentina, of mestizo descent from French and Amerindian (Quechuan) ancestry. In 1950, at age fifteen, she won a singing competition organized by a local radio station and was given a contract to perform for two months.
Sosa and her first husband Manuel Oscar Matus were key players in the mid-60s nueva canción movement (which was called nuevo cancionero in Argentina). Her first record was Canciones con Fundamento (Songs with Fundament), a collection of Argentine folk songs.
In 1967, Sosa toured with great success the United States and Europe. In subsequent years, she performed and recorded extensively, broadening her repertoire to include material from throughout Latin America.
In the early 1970s, Sosa released two concept albums in collaboration with composer Ariel Ramírez and lyricist Félix Luna: Cantata Sudamericana (South American Cantata) and Mujeres Argentinas (Argentine Women). She also recorded a tribute to Chilean poet Violeta Parra.
After the military dictatorship of Jorge Videla came to power, the atmosphere in Argentina grew increasingly oppressive. At a concert in La Plata (Buenos Aires) in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, and the attending crowd was arrested. Banned in her own country, she moved to Paris and then to Madrid.
Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Falklands War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera theater in Buenos Aires, where she invited many of her younger colleagues to share the stage. A double album of recordings from these performances became an instant best seller.
In the following years, Sosa continued to tour both in Argentina and abroad, performing in such venues as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Mogador in París.
Sosa's repertoire continued to broaden, and she made recordings in various styles. She collaborated frequently with Argentine musicians such as León Gieco, Charly García, Antonio Tarragó Ros, Rodolfo Mederos and Fito Páez, and other Latin American artists such as Milton Nascimento and Silvio Rodríguez.
Sosa participated in a 2001 production of the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez.
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