Indigenous Argentina and Revolutionary Latin America: Mercedes Sosa and the Multiple Meanings of Folk Music
2017. "Indigenous Argentina and Revolutionary Latin America: Mercedes Sosa and the Multiple Meanings of Folk Music", Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music, Matthew B. Karush
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Chapter 5 examines the career of folksinger Mercedes Sosa. Sosa was a founding member of the leftist Movimiento Nuevo Cancionero (New Songbook movement), which combined traditional song forms with sophisticated poetry and an emphasis on social themes. But this affiliation failed to win her large audiences. Sosa became a star in the mid-1960s by reinventing herself as an embodiment of an abstract, essentialist indigeneity. She crafted this performance style by drawing on contemporary trends in North American folk music as well as on a tradition forged by earlier Argentine musicians who packaged their art to appeal to the primitivist sensibilities of European audience. As an up-to-date image expressed through aesthetic vanguardism, her new persona appealed to the cosmopolitan middle class. The multinational record company, Philips, saw its commercial potential and gave Sosa the platform she needed to reach audiences in Argentina as well as in Europe and the United States. Yet by locating an essentialist indigeneity at the heart of Argentine national identity, Sosa had also connected the country to the rest of Latin America. During the 1970s, she elaborated a revolutionary Latin Americanism that enabled Argentine young people to reimagine their nationality. Thanks to a persona and musical style crafted in dialogue with European and North American images and ideas, Sosa combined Piazzolla’s cosmopolitan nationalism with Sandro’s mass, Latin American appeal.