Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of the Voiceless Ones

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The Argentinian folk Singer,  Mercedes Sosa,  was known in Latin America as the “Voice of the Voiceless Ones”.  She represented a powerful source of resistance against the Military  dictatorships that took over Latin America during the 60s and 70s. With a career starting in the late 50’s, Sosa was at the forefront of the “Nueva Cancion” musical movement during the 60s, winning several awards. The “Nueva Cancion” was themed around Social Justice. Through her music, Mercedes Sosa was renowned for championing the rights of the poor.

In 1979, during a concert in La Plata,  Sosa was searched and arrested by the Argentinian Military Junta and forced into exile to France. She returned to Argentina in 1982, a few months before the Militarship  collapsed as a result of the Malvinas War. The clip chosen to illustrate this feature marks a historical moment of Sosa performing “Volver a los 17”,  together with the Brazilians Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and Milton Nascimento.  Just like Sosa, Caetano Veloso e Chico Buarque had also been forced into exile during the Militarship Dictatorship in Brazil. While Milton Nascimento and Gal Costa had stayed, they still suffered the effects of the authoritarian regime by having their work heavily censored and their movements severely controlled.

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“Volver a los 17” was composed by  Violeta Parra, a Chilean composer  from the Nueva Cancion movement who died in the early 60s. Parra also influenced Joan Baez and the American Folk Music movement of the 60s.

In 2008,  Merceds Sosa’s song “Balderrama” was  featured on the film Che. She died in September 2009, at the age of 74.

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