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Mariana Isabel Lorenzetti

who specialized in jazz. Some sources (e.g., Ortega, 2007) give his date of birth as 20 February 1909, in the locality of Machagai, Chaco Province, in the far north of Argentina. Others (e.g., Gaffet, 2002) record his birthplace as the city of Resistencia, Chaco’s capital. Oscar Alemán was the son of Marcela Pereira—of the indigenous Qom, or Toba people—and of the amateur guitarist Jorge Alemán Moreira, who was born in Uruguay. He was the fourth of seven children in his family.

Alemán began to explore the world of music at a very young age, mostly through self-instruction. According to the family of the musician Guilldermo Iacona, at 6 years old, in 1915, Oscar belonged to a group called Moreira Sextet, along with his father and siblings Rodolfo, Carlos, Jorgelina, and Juana (Iacona et al., 2012 As a member of that group he delivered his ...

Article

Sonia Fuentes Resto

was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on 8 May 1934, to Alberto “Titi” Amadeo, a popular composer, and Vicenta Rodríguez. Miguel and his older brother Ramón were raised by their mother, who was a seamstress and homemaker. Miguel was only about a year old when his father left the family to return to New York City full-time, where he had been living on and off since 1927. In the late 1920s, the Puerto Rican music scene in New York was exploding, with Rafael Hernández, Pedro Flores, and Manuel Jiménez making a name for themselves as composers and performers. Alberto Amadeo became an accomplished songwriter himself, with many popular Latin American stars recording his songs. Miguel, however, had no relationship with his father, and although he seemed to inherit his musical talent from him, his father’s success would offer him no entrée into the industry.

After World War II ...

Article

Esther Aillón Soria and Sara Busdiecker

was born in La Glorieta in the Nor Yungas Province of the department of La Paz, Bolivia, on 25 March 1977. His parents, Justo Ballivián (1950– ) and Juana Vásquez Larrea (1948–2012), worked in agriculture, cultivating traditional-use coca plants and citrus fruits. His siblings include sisters Angélica (a resident of Spain), Reyna, Mari Cruz, and Saida and a brother, Jorge.

At the age of 10, upon the separation of his parents, he moved with his mother and siblings from La Glorieta to the nearby community of Tocaña. His childhood and adolescence thereafter were spent studying and working odd jobs in Tocaña, La Paz, and Coroico, the provincial capital of Nor Yungas. He graduated from Coroico’s secondary school, Colegio Guerrilleros Lanza (part of the Fe y Alegría International Federation network of schools), in 1999 He fathered a son Amanileo a resident of the United States in ...

Article

Mariana Isabel Lorenzetti

accompanied Carlos Gardel, the celebrated singer of Argentine tangos, with his compositions and music. He was born on 25 September 1894 in the neighborhood of San Cristóbal in the city of Buenos Aires. He was self-taught, and his father, Tristán Barbieri, helped him develop his talent for the guitar from a young age. At the age of 17 he married Rosario Acosta, with whom he had five children: María Esther, Carmen Luz, Adela, Guillermo Oscar, and Alfredo Barbieri (who was Carlos Gardel’s godson). He was the grandfather of Carmen Barbieri, who is today a well-known actress and comedian. The anthropologist Norberto Cirio (2012) confirmed in his writing that Barbieri’s ancestors were of African descent.

In 1916, Barbieri began to play with his accompanist Luciano Cardelli, nicknamed “El tanito,” playing serenades and baptisms in the neighborhoods of the city of Buenos Aires. According to the tango historian Horacio ...

Article

Mario Angel Silva Castro

His lifelong research allowed him to re-create the candombe drum with fusions that included samba, rap, bossa nova, and funk, among other styles.

Jorge Damião Bello Gularte, known as “Jorginho,” was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on 16 February 1956. The son of José Bello and “Martha” Gularte, a well-known figure within Afro-Uruguayan culture, he spent his childhood moving between Uruguay and Brazil. When he definitively settled with his mother and sister, Katy, in Montevideo, they found a home on Curuguaty Street in the Barrio Sur, barely a block from the emblematic tenement house “Mediomundo” (a significant space for African candombe). From a young age, he was involved in music, taking piano lessons in Porto Alegre, and by the age of 11 he was already playing the candombe drums and participating in his mother’s groups. He also began to teach himself to play the guitar in 1969 ...

Article

Tshombe L. Miles

was born Jorge Duilio Lima Menezes in Rio de Janeiro, on 22 March 1942. Ben Jor is of mixed African and European heritage, including a grandfather on his mother’s side who came to Brazil from Ethiopia. In November 2009, in an interview for Trip magazine, he described his youth as a time when all of his basic needs were met. He received a good education, at Colégio Diocesano São José in Rio de Janeiro, and even studied at a seminary, also in Rio de Janeiro, where he had the opportunity to read philosophy. This would have a profound effect on his development. As a youth he also proved to be a talented soccer player, and he has devoted many songs to the sport.

Ben Jor is a self taught guitarist singer and songwriter Over the course of his musical career he has experimented with a variety of musical ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

Born in Rio de Janiero, Jorge Duílio Lima Menezes began his music career in the early 1960s using the stage name Jorge Ben, taken from the surname of his Ethiopian mother, who gave him his first guitar. He divided his energies between rock and roll and bossa nova, the sophisticated new style based on Samba rhythms and Jazz harmonies. In 1963 he recorded his first LP album, Samba Esquema Novo, followed by Sacudim Ben Samba and Ben é Samba Bom in 1964. He scored an international hit with “Mas que nada,” which inspired versions by Sérgio Mendes, South African diva Miriam Makeba, and Hugh Masekela.

In the late 1960s his music was embraced by the innovative tropicalist movement led by Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso who celebrated his electric fusions of international black popular music while others criticized him for deviating from authentic Brazilian ...

Article

Gordon Root

Djalma Andrade received the stage name Bola Sete while playing guitar in a small jazz band in which he was the only black member. Bola Sete means “ball number seven,” the only black ball in Brazilian billiards.

Bola Sete began his formal music education at the Conservatory of Rio de Janeiro where he studied classical guitar. His early influences, including Andrés Segovia, Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian, reveal the young artist's interest in both classical music and jazz. His passion for these two genres remained constant throughout his career. As a young man he also played in various Samba and choro groups two Brazilian musical genres with roots in the nineteenth century composing numerous pieces including one of his best known early compositions Cosminho no Choro As a result of his exposure to jazz classical and Brazilian popular music the guitarist became familiar with a variety ...

Article

Fernando Llanos and Mónica Rojas

was born in Lima, Peru, on 23 April 1947 the son of Luis Alberto Casaverde Ardiles a professional musician and Felicita Maria Vivanco Vivanco wet nurse for Chabuca Granda s younger brother and later housewife Félix s father split his time between studying radio broadcasting and performing at private parties for the elite of Lima in the 1950s and was skillful with the guitar accordion and piano and knowledgeable on diverse music styles played for ballroom dances Luis transferred his artistry to Félix who soon became a versatile music interpreter for different types of audiences During his high school studies and still an adolescent Félix Casaverde formed a band called El Sexto Poder The Sixth Power its name inspired by the black power slogan coined by black social movements in the United States in the 1960s The members of Casaverde s band were six black friends and they interpreted ...

Article

Rebecca Dirksen

was likely born in the village of Dubédou, Haiti, not far from Gonaïves. The date of Casimir’s birth is contested, although it most likely would have been around 1914 Little is known of her origins except that she had a difficult childhood and purportedly left Gonaïves alone at age 14 to seek a happier life in Port au Prince traveling the hundred miles by foot with only a guitar on her back One story explains that better fortune began when painter Alix Roy heard Casimir singing on the Champs de Mars a public square in downtown Port au Prince and took the gifted teenager to meet his aunt Lina Mathon Blanchet a pianist composer folklorist and arts promoter who is credited with discovering Casimir s talent Another story relates that Blanchet at the insistence of spectators who knocked at her door during siesta one afternoon went directly to the ...

Article

Mary Procopio

was born on 14 December 1915 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father was a civil servant who headed up the Department of Water Supply. Casséus’s interest in the guitar was sparked by his aunt, who played the mandolin and helped to raise him when he was a child. In Casséus’s words, following his aunt’s death, “The sight of her mandolin perched on this pile of garbage and the memory of her music has never ceased to haunt me. I burned with desire, for I never forgot Aunt Andrée’s mandolin” (Mathelier, 1995; quoted in Ribot and Ribot, 2003, p. 5). Originally intent on pursuing a law degree, Casséus dropped out of school to focus on playing guitar, and is known as the first professional classical guitarist in Haiti.

Casséus studied with the Haitian composer and ethnographer Werner Anton Jaegerhuber in the early 1930s Like his teacher Casséus challenged the ...

Article

Thomas George Caracas Garcia

was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 30 April 1914. His paternal great-grandfather (whose name was spelled “Caimmi”) immigrated to Brazil from Italy and was a construction worker. His father, Durval Henrique Caymmi, was a civil servant and amateur musician, and his mother, Aurelina, was an amateur singer of African and Portuguese descent. Dorival never had any formal training as a singer, and in his teens he had a variety of jobs, most notably as a street vendor. His musical career, however, took off while he was still a teenager. He was a self-taught guitarist, singer, and composer, and by the early 1930s, he was performing his own songs on the nascent radio stations in his hometown.

By 1935 Caymmi was singing and playing guitar on Rádio Clube de Bahia (Bahia Radio Club, a major broadcaster in Salvador) and in 1935, he had his own show, Caymmi e Suas ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

Dorival Caymmi was born in Salvador, Brazil, and worked at several jobs before becoming a singer. Despite winning a songwriting contest in 1936 he chose to study law, moving to Rio de Janeiro two years later to pursue that ambition. Friends, however, convinced him to try his hand at a musical career. Caymmi achieved widespread popularity in 1939, when Carmen Miranda performed his song “O que é que a baiana tem?” in the film Banana da Terra.

Caymmi's music—more than that of any other Brazilian singer-songwriter—encouraged the popular recognition and acceptance of the cosmology and beliefs of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé Several compositions such as É doce morrer no mar Rainha do mar and Promessa de Pescador portray the life of local fishermen and their relationship to Yemanjá the African deity of the sea In other compositions like Você já foi a Bahia Saudade da ...

Article

Gage Averill and Kevin F. Mason

was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 14 April 1948. His mother was Euchariste Charlemagne from Léogâne, and his father (whom he never knew) was Denis Barnave from Les Cayes. Often referred to as Manno Chalmay, using his Kreyòl (Creole) nickname and the Kreyòl orthography of his last name, he was raised by his aunt Antonia Charlemagne (his mother’s younger sister) in the neighborhood around the Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines (then called “Grand Rue”) in what he calls an “urban lakou,” a collective housing settlement of several families, such as would be common in the countryside. He attended Catholic elementary schools but listened to the music of laborers singing betiz, obscenely humorous lyrics intended to entertain, critique, or rebuke. Manno experienced firsthand the violence surrounding the overthrow of President Paul Magloire as a child in 1956 which led to the dictatorship of François Duvalier an event that shaped ...

Article

Nelson Santana

known as the “Father of Dominican Rock,” was born on 21 June 1952 in the town of Maimón, Monseñor Nouel Province, Dominican Republic, to a working-class family. As a youngster, he demonstrated a passion for music. His mother was a spiritual singer and his father played the tres, a six-string guitar divided into three sets of two strings each. Días studied music in Bonao under the tutelage of Juan Zorrilla and Tatán Jiménez. At age 16 he formed his first musical group, Los Chonnys, blending the social, political, and historical culture of rural and urban life. In the early 1970s he left Bonao to study psychology at Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) in the capital city, thus developing a sense of social conscience.

The nueva canción chilena New Chilean Song of the 1960s and the Cuban Revolution were movements that resonated throughout Latin America and Spain including ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

guitarist, was born Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalayi, on 9 July 1939 in the town of Mikalayi in the Kasai province of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo His family moved to Kinshasa the capital of the country sometime in the 1940s Kasanda completed his primary education and received vocational training as a mechanic However the guitar became his main passion at an early age His older brother Charles Mwamba and his cousin Tino Baroza taught Kasanda how to play guitar He soon surpassed his teachers in talent and creativity By the age of fourteen Kasanda had begun to perform publicly and even had played guitar on Para Fifi a rumba song sung by the band leader Joseph Kabasélé The Opiko studio in Kinshasa hired Kasanda as a member of their studio band Even though Kasanda s family viewed their son s career plans as a mistake ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a musician later known as Dewayon, was born on 26 June 1934 in the town of Bolobo, located on the Congo River in Bandundu Province, roughly halfway between the cities of Kinshasa and Mbandaka in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His home region near Lake Mai Ndombe had suffered greatly under Belgian king Leopold II's Independent State of the Congo in the early twentieth century, but Ebengo took pride in his home region's cultural heritage that had survived this dark period. His musical style was later strongly influenced by ekondo, a rhythm in 6/8 time that Ebengo merged with Latin American rumba in his guitar playing. Ebengo attended five years of primary school in the town of Mushie in Bandundu Province, but decided to move to Kinshasa in 1947 He worked briefly aboard steamers on the Congo River as well as for the Utexléo and Tissaco companies Ebengo ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to an ex-slave, Gabino Ezeiza first picked up a guitar at the age of fifteen. Drawing from a rich oral tradition of earlier payadores, he gradually attracted an impressive following by taking his improvisational virtuosity on the road. The payada, a duel-like exchange in which singer-guitarists spontaneously compose formulaic refrains, is derived from both Spanish versification and African traditions of musical contests. In Argentina, it is considered “popular literature,” inextricably tied to the most symbolic of national figures: the gaucho of the pampas (roughly equivalent to cowboys on the range). While still a teenager, Ezeiza began writing for La Juventud, a Buenos Aires newspaper for and by members of the black community. From 1876 to 1878, while still building a reputation as a payador, publishing poetry, and writing news, he became the editor of La Juventud.

Before the twentieth ...

Article

Born in the Dominican Republic, Guerra, with his group 4.40, gained an international reputation during the 1980s and 1990s for his music—a danceable blend of two popular Caribbean genres, Salsa and Merengue. Guerra uses poetic lyrics that often speak to social issues in the Dominican Republic and the rest of Latin America. His music also draws on the roots of other popular Caribbean, Latin American, and African American styles, including bachata (a style of lyric poetry), nuevo cancíon (Spanish for “new song”), and African soukous.

Guerra was born and raised in a middle-class neighborhood in Santo Domingo the Dominican Republic s capital His father was a professional baseball player Guerra s early musical influences include the British rock music groups the Beatles Jethro Tull Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones as well as the traditional music of the Dominican Republic Largely self taught on the guitar ...

Article

Gabriela Pulido Llano

was born in Mexico City on 17 July 1947. He emigrated to the United States in 1967 to study music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he obtained a degree in composition in 1972. Berkelee would award him an honorary doctor of music degree in September 2005.

His parents, Juan José Laboriel and Francisca López de Laboriel, were musicians, composers, and actors from La Ceiba, Honduras, a region inhabited by Garifuna people of mixed African and indigenous descent. His father acted in Mexican film and was an active member of the musicians’ labor union, the Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México. His brother, Johnny, and sisters Ella and Frances were also musicians and actors. Abraham’s sons—Abraham, known as Abe Laboriel Jr., and Mateo—became musicians as well. Abe Jr. has played drums with Paul McCartney starting in 2001 and Mateo worked in the ...