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Mercedes Sosa Biography
Haydee Mercedes Sosa's popularity in Latin America spanned four decades and was dubbed "the voice of the silent majority" and was credited with championing the poor and fighting for political change. She was also nicknamed La Negra because of her Jet Black hair and Amerindian heritage. She was born in San Miguel de Tucuman the capital of one of Argentines smallest provinces. She was from a working class family from mixed French and Amerindian ancestry and started singing and folk dancing as a child. At 15 she won a competition which allowed her to sing for the station for two months this enabled her to then turn professional.
She was a founding member of the Nueva Cancion movement along with her first husband Manuel Oscar Matus. Her songs helped to popularise the movement. These political leanings caused her trouble when the Argentinian military, under Jorge Videla, staged a coup in March 1976. Initially, only some of Sosa's songs were censored, but as she became seen internationally as a voice of freedom, the harassment increased. Some of her recordings started to be censored and even more so as she became more internationally known. It came to a head when she was humiliatingly searched and arrested when she was on stage performing in a city called La Plata, they not only arrested Sosa but also 350 other people who were in the audience. She was detained for over 18 hours and released due to international pressure. After various death threats she made a decision to go into exile and went first of all to Paris and then Madrid. She found exile very difficult and in 1982, just after a decade of living away from her beloved land she returned just before the collapse of military rule. Although when she arrived the military junta were still in power because she was so well known both in her country and internationally she was well received and excluded from any punishment.
She performed and sung with many international artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Shakira. She released 70 albums over six decades, in her lifetime she also won three Latin Grammy awards.
She is survived by her son, Fabian.