Mercedes Sosa, in concert, Quito, Ecuador, 10/26/2008
My wife showed me an article about her passing in her daily Hokkaido newspaper yesterday, and it feels like I’ve lost a much-loved member of my family. A year younger than me, I think of her as a sister.
I first encountered Mercedes Sosa in 1977 when my Spanish instructor at the University of Minnesota showed me one of her albums, “Cantata Sudamericana”, which I still have. From the minute I heard her voice, I was hooked. It is full, rich, captivating. Her voice, her personality and her music captivated millions across South America and around the world.
Born in Tucuman, Argentina, she began her singing career at age 15, when she won a contest on a radio station. She was still singing 59 years later when she took sick and entered a hospital a few weeks ago.
Her music was always about the people: the poor and disenfranchised, the sick, the old and the persecuted victims of the military dictatorships that hated and persecuted her.
Doña Mercedes, I bow to you. Gracias, mi hermana; gracias por su vida y su canción. Rest in peace. Thank you for blessing us for all your life with all that you are.