Leda Valladares, an interview


Leda Valladares

Today I present to you the third edition of meetings with the greats of Argentine Folklore. More information about them and the transcript of the interviews can be found on our site www.tangodiario.com.

The singer, composer and researcher Leda Valladares is a phenomenon. She was born in Tucumán in 1919. As a teenager, she was enthusiastic about jazz, blues and classical music. „Before looking at the world, I began to listen to it“, she says. At the age of 19, she founded the FIJOS (Fixed) group, which means Folkloric, Intuitive, Jazzistic, Original and Surreal.

Shortly after, she discovers the baguala during the carnival in Cafayate, when she listens from her balcony to three women singing this archaic song form from northwest Argentina. It is then that she decides to dedicate herself to the music of the Andes and trace the musical treasures from Ecuador to Santiago del Estero in Argentina. She records so many of these songs creating a „Musical Map“ and specializes in this repertoire as a singer. Because she doesn’t see herself as a researcher who sings, but as a singer who explores.

In 1952, she founded the folkloric duo Leda y María with the poet, composer and singer María Elena Walsh and they toured all over Europe. In 1956, the two return to Argentina. They make numerous albums and tour Latin America. In the sixties, Leda received different scholarships to continue exploring and recording this ancestral repertoire.

In the 70s, she brought together young folklore musicians with representatives of Argentine national rock. What seems incompatible at first glance works and creates a very special musical world.

In 1989, Leda recorded her famous album “Grito en el Cielo” singing along with rock musicians such as Fito Páez, Pedro Aznar and Gustavo Cerati.

In December 1994 I found Leda Valladares at her house. She told me about her travels through Latin America and her experiences with the macumbas in Bahia, Brazil. She explained to me why the drum, in particular, has religious and magical power, what fascinates her so much about the cry in Andean musical traditions, and why she hates Italian operas.

Hear for yourselves what this great singer, songwriter and researcher, who died in July 2012 at the age of 92, told me in her living room over a cup of tea and some delicious cookies.

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