The Sound of Latin America: Sandro and the Invention of Balada
Chapter 4 examines the trajectory of Sandro, who began his professional career as a rock and roll singer before helping to invent a new genre known as balada. Sandro’s career unfolded in the context of a dramatic and sustained expansion of the global record business that began in the late 1950s. New marketing strategies pursued by the multinational recording companies created new opportunities for Argentine musicians to collaborate with and borrow from their counterparts in other Latin American countries as well as to capture the emerging youth audiences from throughout the region. Although the global spread of rock and roll is often depicted as a series of parallel disseminations from core to periphery, the process was actually much more thoroughly transnational. Sandro borrowed liberally from Spanish, Italian, French, and Latin American pop musicians who were themselves responding to the rise of rock and roll. He fashioned a new genre not by hybridizing rock with local, Argentine music, but by drawing on this eclectic array of sources. In so doing, Sandro helped reshape the transnational circuits that structured global mass culture. His music became an aesthetic preference that marked consumers from throughout the Americas as Latin. His success complicated the efforts of middle-class Argentines to distinguish themselves culturally from less-developed and darker-skinned Latin Americans as well as from the negros in their own country.