A documentary on the beloved singer, “Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America,” screens in New York at the Ossining Public Library on March 15, 2015 as a free public event. Mercedes Sosa, the late Grammy award-winning folk singer who sold millions of records worldwide, was born to a sugar cane worker and a washerwoman in Argentina. Sosa became famous for singing songs that championed the poor and threatened corrupt governments throughout Latin America. Sosa identified with the political left, like other exponents of Latin America’s nueva canción movement, including Víctor Jara and Violeta Parra.
The New York Daily News wrote, “Mercedes Sosa could be considered the Latin American Bob Dylan – if Dylan had been arrested right on stage in Argentina during the height of oppression under the military junta of Jorge Videla. Her release and subsequent exile in Europe secured only by an international uproar.”
The Award-winning Argentine director Rodrigo Villa brings together figures in the nueva cancion movement, as well as world music aficionado David Byrne, to put Sosa’s life in perspective. The film follows her rise as a child of laborers to a champion of the poor via folk music, which led her to record some 70 albums and perform sold-out concerts across the world, from Rome’s Coliseum to New York’s Carnegie Hall.
After the screening two eminent speakers will discuss the power of songs and poems to inspire social movements: the Latin American revolutionary poet Giannina Braschi and the Latin American historian Christopher Albi.
More about Mercedes Sosa:
Argentina’s military dictatorship, which human rights groups claim killed 30,000 people from 1976 to 1983, harassed Mercedes Sosa and banned her records from the nation’s airwaves, prompting her to abandon her homeland for Europe in 1979. That year, at a concert in La Plata, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, along with all those attending the concert. Their release came about through international intervention.
“I had to leave because the military was following me too closely,” Sosa says in the documentary. “I don’t know why. I’ve never killed anyone.”
Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Falklands War. A supporter of Perón in her youth, she favored leftist causes throughout her life. She opposed President Carlos Menem, who was in office from 1989 to 1999, and supported the election of Néstor Kirchner, who became president in 2003. Sosa was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean. Sosa performed with artists across generations and genres, including: Martha Argerich, Andrea Bocelli, Joan Baez, Lucecita Benitez, Luciano Pavarotti, Silvio Rodríguez, Ismael Serrano, Shakira, Sting, and Caetano Veloso</strong>.
She remained in Argentina until her death in 2009.
More about the Speakers:
Giannina Braschi, one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin American literature today, is best known for the poetry epic EMPIRE OF DREAMS, the Spanglish classic novel YO-YO BOING!, and the radical work of dramatic fiction UNITED STATES OF BANANA. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and has won grants and awards from the Ford Foundation, Reed Foundation, The Danforth Scholarship, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, among others. Professor Braschi was a founding member of the Children’s Choir of San Juan, a tennis champion, and fashion model prior to becoming a writer. She holds a PhD in Golden Age Spanish Literature from SUNY Stony Brook and has taught at Rutgers, Colgate, and City University. She dedicates her life’s work to inspiring personal and political liberty.
Christopher Albi has taught Latin American History at SUNY New Paltz since 2012. A native of Canada, he received a B.A. (Honors) from the University of Manitoba and a JD from the University of Toronto. Professor Albi has lived in Mexico, Spain, New York City, and Austin, Texas, where he received his Ph.D. at the University of Texas in 2009. While his research focuses on the history of law and justice in colonial Mexico, he teaches courses on modern Latin America, Argentina & Chile, Environmental History, and the History of Crime and Rebellion. He first discovered the music of Mercedes Sosa, Atahualpa Yupanqui and other singers of the nueva canción while studying Spanish in Oaxaca, Mexico in the early 1990s.The event is free and open to the public.
Date: March 12, 2015
Film: Mercedes Sosa: Voice of Latin America
The Ossining Public Library in New York
53 Croton Ave, Ossining, New York 10562
Free and open to the public.