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Gardel Prize winner MARIA VOLONTE makes U.S. move;
Latin Grammy-nominated Argentine singer named “the Muse of the Underground” has first U.S. release with “Sudestada” CD;
U.S. concerts begin in NYC with Americas Society reception
Winner of the Gardel Prize (Argentina’s Grammy award) and a Latin Grammy nominee, Maria Volonte is a singer and songwriter who takes the music of Latin America to unexpected places by breaking musical boundaries and honing a deeply personal approach. Maria is one of the new voices of Argentina, where she was dubbed “the Muse of the Underground.”
As the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Volonte is a good example of an artist who is respectful of her roots yet not afraid to go beyond musty old formulas… Her musical concept is refreshingly broad.”
Besides her numerous shows in Argentina, Maria has performed in Europe, across Latin America and in the United States. In Munich, she sang the title role in the opera “Maria of Buenos Aires,” composed by Astor Piazzolla. She has performed in London, Zurich, Vienna, Belgrade and at the Helsinki Festival in Finland. Maria is also familiar to American TV audiences through her appearance in the PBS Television special Tango: Spirit of Argentina. That pledge special, filmed entirely on location in Buenos Aires, debuted nationally in 2005 and continues to run in markets across the country.
In Buenos Aires, Maria has headlined several runs of the successful show “Enamorandote” together with Chico Novarro. Around the world, Maria performs in festivals and theaters either with her trio or presenting her solo show “Maria Volonte: Intima.”
Maria has released six albums. Her latest, “Sudestada” (released December 2007 on Intrepid Patrol) features four of Maria’s own compositions and was produced by famed singer-songwriter Raul Carnota. “Yo soy Maria” (2006), explores the fusion of tango with jazz and bossa nova and was nominated for the 2007 Gardel Prize. “Tangos” (2004), brought together a classic collection of tangos from her repertoire and was nominated for the 2005 Gardel Prize. “Fuimos” (2003), a duo project with the legendary pianist Horacio Larumbe, won Maria the 2004 Gardel Prize and was nominated for a Latin Grammy. “Cornisas del Corazon” (1999), was recorded live at the historic Tortoni Cafe in Buenos Aires while her first, “Tango y Otras Pasiones” (1996) was chosen by the “La Nacion” newspaper as one of the top 100 tango recordings of all time.
In 2007, Maria was inducted into the Tango Hall of Fame.
Maria Volonte Press Quotes
“Volonté is a good example of an artist who is respectful of her roots yet not afraid to go beyond musty old formulas… Her musical concept is refreshingly broad.”
-- Los Angeles Times
“One of the best voices in tango today. Volonté is one of a kind!"
“Volonté is a captivating presence on stage… Her arresting interpretation coats the melancholy mood with a creamy sensuality that makes the performance wholly mesmerizing.”
-- Americas Magazine
i“The gorgeous María Volonté CD is a parade of good taste. Now people around the world can enjoy her beautiful art.”
-- Paquito D’Rivera
Reception, Q&A and Acoustic promotional performance
Mon July 7, 2008 at 7:00pm
Online reservations at
Maria Volonte and Trio: Songs of Argentine Passion
An evening of song celebrating Argentine Independence Day
Wed July 9 2008 at 9:30pm
María Volonté: In Her Own Words
by María Volonté
(updated June 2008)
I was born in Ituzaingó, in the province of Buenos Aires. In those days, Ituzaingó stood halfway between the great metropolis and the vast countryside of Argentina. It was a place where the perfumes of the pampa mixed with the exhaust of the city.
I lived with my parents and my five sisters in a large, bright house. My father worked as a draftsman and painted watercolors. But above all he was a great -- though frustrated -- showman. He had spent much of his youth acting, reciting and singing in cinemas, theaters and cabarets. When he married, his first wife made it clear to him that the delights of married life were incompatible with a life in vaudeville. After that ultimatum, he devoted himself to transferring his fascination with a life lived on stage to his daughters.
My father created a universe around of us of constant artistic provocation: oil, pastel, tempera paintings; masks and homemade fancy dresses; books, pictures, films. A typical afternoon at home would find us in the kitchen with painted bed sheets hanging as scenery; bright lamps with their shades removed for shadow plays; and improvised family orchestras outfitted with rice cans, saucepans and wooden spoons. My mother dealt with this never-ending chaos as best as she could and with infinite patience.
But above all the other arts it was music that filled our lives. We listened to and sang music from all over the world: tango, folk music, bolero, flamenco, jazz, opera, musical comedies, French and Italian songs and Portuguese fados.
One day when I was five, Dad came home with a “Geloso,” one of the first home tape recorders and recorded me singing “Catari” (“Cuore ingrato”), an old Neapolitan song. Today I am still impressed when I hear my small but determined voice singing and weeping at the same time because I was so moved by the music and the story of lost love. There was so much secret pain in that melody, so much love! That day I discovered, unknowingly, that singing is only a matter of allowing oneself to be pierced by passion.
After such an upbringing, it was very difficult for me to adapt to the rigors of school. Every day I would anxiously wait for the final bell to ring so I could go back home where my favorite occupations were reading, making up songs, putting on fancy dresses and performing the plays I dreamed up with my sisters. I also enjoyed playing classical music records and staging choreographies for my sisters to perform.
THE MAGIC GUITAR
When I was ten, my father gave me my first guitar. Many years later we took to calling it “the Magic Guitar” because after it came into my life, something changed in me forever.
Curiously, away from home, I was a terribly shy teenager. Music became my way of communication. When there were events or talent shows at school, I used to sing traditional Argentine folclore songs or the songs from the nascent Argentine rock scene. In the 1970s, I began mixing in songs from Violeta Parra of Chile, Nicolás Guillén of Cuba or Paco Ibáñez and Joan Manuel Serrat of Spain. But long nights playing guitar with friends, drinking wine into the wee hours were giving me courage and warming up my voice.
MUSE OF THE UNDERGROUND
I started to sing professionally in the 1980s. Just married, love was the great incentive to begin a new stage in my life as an artist. It was an intense period of learning: I studied music, dance, theater, song writing. I began taking voice lessons with a great master of vocal technique in Buenos Aires, Julio Méndez.
We lived in the old San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires and I was part of the active cultural scene that revolved around the central square, the Plaza Dorrego. I sang in cafes and in abandoned warehouses of Buenos Aires where many of the best Latin rock concerts took place. My friendship with several extraordinary musicians who are still a part of my life dates from that time: the inexhaustible murguero Ariel Prat; the beloved bass player Horacio “Mono” Hurtado; the precocious, ultra-talented Javier Malosetti.
In the 1980s I was exploring ways of fusing Argentine tango and folclore with Latin sensuality and the strength of rock. I wrote many songs in that vein with Timo Zorraquín, my husband, who was a writer and journalist.
Together we dove into the underground culture of Buenos Aires, which was seething after the fall of the military government. Our co-adventurers were an extraordinary bunch of characters: Jorge Pistocchi, who was the creator of the “El Expreso Imaginario” and “Pan Caliente” magazines and who gave me the nickname “La Musa del Underground” (“The Muse of the Underground”); Poly, Skay and El Indio Solari, who later became the famous Argentine rock band “Redonditos de Ricota”; and an assortment of musicians, poets, writers and other eccentrics who populated that bohemian world.
A RETURN TO TANGO
Though I started my professional career singing folk and Latin rock songs, it was clear even then that tango would be a deep well from which to draw and a constant companion on my musical journey.
In 1985, on one of our many nocturnal explorations of Buenos Aires, we ended up with friends drinking in a desolate, downtown cabaret where they played Greek music while women danced with clients. Whiskey in hand, I listened to the sensual and melancholy music and looked at the women around me. I felt a wave of tenderness for these unknown women, ersatz belly dancers in tight jeans and tee-shirts who, young or weathered, alone or with a client, seemed to have abandoned all hope that life could one day surprise them pleasantly. I stood up, taking advantage of a break between songs, pushed a chair to the center of the dance floor and sat down backwards on it, leaning on the chair back. I looked into the red spotlights that blinded me and, without any accompaniment began to sing a classic tango of broken dreams and long nights, “La Ultima Curda” (The Last Drunken Binge). As the song flowed from my lips, one by one, out of the shadows, these silent women approached me with their eyes moist, and with expert hands that barely touched me, inserted bills into my cleavage.
When I finished, the women circled around me – leaving their consternated clients in the shadows – and applauded me like a long, warm embrace. If I had any doubt that I could reach people with tango in ways that were deep and mysterious, it was banished that night.