Latinas: Women of Latin America Putumayo

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In societies as patriarchal as those of Latin America, music is one of the few venues in which women have traditionally been allowed to shine. They have been the purveyors of lullabies, celebratory songs, and religious ritual music. In the last several decades, Latin American women have made tremendous strides into the commercial music world, most notably in the areas of Cuban son and Brazilian samba. All the while, however, women in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and other countries have been quietly making inroads into popular music. This release examines the varicolored tapestry of Latin American women’s music. The veteran Argentine political singer Mercedes Sosa, who helped popularize nueva cancion, the Latin American counterpart to the ’60s folksong revival in the U.S., contributes “Un Son Para Portinari,” a paean to radical painter Cándido Portinari. Her deep, straightforward voice fearlessly declaims Nicolas Guillen’s poetry. Mariana Montalvo, a Chilean singer with a honeyed voice, uses the traditional sounds of her native country in new ways on “La Libélula (The Dragonfly),” a song with an irresistible sway. Mexican singer Lhasa‘s cool, otherworldly voice intertwines with sinuous cello lines on her smoky cabaret song “De Cara A La Pared.” Comparisons to Sadé are inevitable here. By contrast, Cuban singer Celina González (“Guajira Linda”) has the assertive pipes of Ethel Merman. There is good, solid representation of a variety of styles here. – Peggy Latkovich

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