Remembering Argentina’s Mercedes Sosa: “Sólo le pido a Dios”

December 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Argentina, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Even before “La Negra” (so called because of her part Quechua heritage) passed away October 4 at the age of 74, Mercedes Sosa stood a good chance of nabbing yet another Latin Grammy last month in Las Vegas, for her last album, Cantautora 1. Not only did it indeed win for mejor album folclórico (best folk album), but her memory was invoked throughout the show, including an emotional video tribute presented by Rubén Blades. This song, Sólo le pido a dios, is one of the signature nueva canción classics of a woman also known as “the voice of Latin America” and widely (though not universally) beloved throughout the hemisphere. It’s a quintessential anthem to those ever-elusive ideals of world peace and understanding (the other song she’s best known for, by the way, is “Gracias a la vida”).

Sosa risked her life (and indeed, had to go into exile) by speaking and singing against Argentina’s “dirty war” dictatorship of the 1970’s (even as she praised Cuba’s dictatorship, though later in life she changed her tune, so to speak, re the latter). After returning from exile in Europe, she continued to sing in support of the world’s oppressed and dispossessed, and worked with some of the world’s top musical headliners, including Andrea Bocelli, Holly Near, Joan Baez, Luciano Pavarotti, Shakira — and of course Sting. This song’s lyrics include the lines: “All I ask of God is that I not grow indifferent to the pain, that dried-up death won’t find me empty and alone, without having done enough.” No danger of that; Mercedes Sosa’s passing left a true void for many Latin Americans. She certainly wasn’t glam, but all the same, her realness and rawness made her that much more of an icon.


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