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“She is the best bolerista since Olga Guillot” – Enrique Fernandez, MIAMI HERALD 12/19/04
Tania Libertad, one of Latin America’s most established singing stars, finally made her American debut on World Village Records in 2003 with the release of “Costa Negra.” Known for both her extensive catalog of boleros and for her abiding interest in the black music of Peru, Libertad’s CD and subsequent US tour introduced American audiences to a unique singer already well-known in Latin music circles.
The release of “Negro Color” continues a four-decade career that has included more than 30 CD releases in Latin America, as well as concerts and recordings with a who’s-who of Latin and Brazilian greats: Aleks Symtek, Miguel Bose, Ivan Lins, Vicente Fernandez, Djavan, and Willie Colon, among others. In 1997 she was declared an Artist for Peace by UNESCO. Highlights of 2004 for Tania also included a special invitation to perform a concert with Placido Domingo in Santa Domingo. She has also just performed at Auditorio Nacional to an audience of over 10,000 fans in Mexico City, a concert which was filmed for a upcoming live DVD.
Born in a small coastal town in northern Peru, Tania Libertad’s musical travels originally took her to Cuba and then to Mexico, where she has lived for over 20 years. She made her first public appearance as a singer at age 5, performing the beautiful bolero “La Historia de un Amor.”.
“Costa Negra” and the newest CD “Negro Color” are profound explorations of the links between African and Peruvian culture. It expands an already extraordinary repertoire for a singer beloved for her restless musical spirit and commitment to true artistic "libertad".
Press quotes about TANIA LIBERTAD
“A wonderful mix of beautiful lyrics with a voice that is not just powerful and melodic but piercing and sweet”
Elio Leturia, DETROIT FREE PRESS
“seamlessly integrates traditional Peruvian ‘black coast’ rhythms with more contemporary Latino ones”
Nicole Pensiero, PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER
“This collection possesses an uncomplicated elegance, thanks to the fine acoustic musicianship and Libertad’s beguiling vocals”
Philip Van Vleck, BILLBOARD
“….a style that transcends tastes and borders”
Diana Molina, PEOPLE en Espanol
“Libertad’s voice is an extraordinarily dramatic instrument … The breadth of her interpretations is stunning, the product of a mature and gifted musical talent”
Don Heckman, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Laura Emerick, CHICAGO SUN TIMES
TANIA LIBERTAD – “Negro Color” Biography
World Village/Harmonia Mundi 468032
Release date December 14, 2004
She possesses a voice that ranges effortlessly between velvety, angelic musings and joyous outbursts of searing intensity. Although deeply grounded in the fertile Afro-Peruvian music of her homeland she has done so much to popularize around the world, Tania Libertad is truly a singer “sin banderas” (without borders) -- a vocalist to whom any style is an invitation to explore, conquer and redefine on her own terms.
For three decades and through the release of 35 albums, she has enjoyed the unwavering support of her fans while maintaining a consistently high level of critical and popular success. With the release of Negro Color (Color Black), her second CD for the World Village label, Tania returns to her roots -- the rhythmically delicate and naturally sensuous universe of organic, culturally distinct Afro-Peruvian styles. As always, she does so on her own terms -- melding a wide range of African-derived songs from throughout the Americas with carefully selected Afro-Peruvian rhythmic elements to achieve a stunning synthesis of pan-American styles.
Born Tania Libertad de Souza Zuniga in the small town of Zana in northern Peru, of a Portuguese father and a Peruvian mother of indigenous and Spanish descent. Tania admits that African blood doesn’t flow through her veins, but the spirit of Peru’s small but culturally vibrant Afro-Peruvian community fires her artistic spirit. “I was nurtured in the coastal area, so my contact with Afro-Peruvian music started right at the beginning of my life,” she recalls of growing up in the region Peruvians fondly refer to as “La Costa Negra” -- the Black Coast. “I started to sing to at the age of five, performing songs in the vals (Peruvian waltz) style and boleros -- Latin ballads -- both accompanied by the cajon” (a wood sound chamber that performs the rhythmic function in Afro-Peruvian music that the Cuban conga drum does in styles like rumba and mambo). Having grown up with this unique style, she’s become intimately aware of how Afro-Peruvian fare differs from its counterpart in other Latin American countries. There is, Tania points out, a very special kind of dialogue between musicians, singers, and those who dance to the rhythms.
“There are only about 15,000 Afro-Peruvian families in the country, but their cultural influence is very strong,” she adds. “Not only the music of these coastal people is special; many of their customs are also distinct.”
When she moved to the capital city of Lima as a teenager, to pursue a career in music, Tania began to cultivate friendships with a strong community of composers and performers who were deeply involved with Black music. “At that time,” she recalls of the 1970s, “the nationalistic government encouraged the growth of Peruvian culture, and even established an Afro-Peruvian Ballet company.
“For many years,” Tania explains, “the music was performed mostly out of sight, behind closed doors in close-knit Afro-Peruvian communities. Peruvian high society considered the music profane. But then, about 70 years ago, the rhythms began to emerge, style by style, and eventually grew into the popular form it is today. Now it is widely embraced as a music that’s emblematic of the best of Peruvian culture.”
Although she moved to Mexico City in the early 1980s and has lived there since, winning the adoration of a legion of Mexican fans, Tania has never ceased investigating what she considers her most important artistic touchstone, the fertile music tradition she grew up with on Peru’s Black Coast.
Her amazingly diverse discography of almost three dozen albums includes forays into the stylistic realms of salsa, nueva cancion (protest songs), Brazilian music, her trademark boleros and other genres, the Afro-Peruvian tradition is one she has a long and ongoing relationship with. Early in her career, Tania recorded Lo Inolvidable de Chabuca Granda, a tribute to one of the great masters of the Afro-Peruvian style. In 1990, she revisited the idiom, but with a twist on Africa en America -- an exuberant survey of African-influenced music throughout the hemisphere. Two years ago, she teamed up with Cape Verdean diva Cesaria Evora on a return to Afro-Peruvian basics on her U.S. debut, the critically acclaimed World Village release Costa Negra (Black Coast). Now, she delivers what may be her most ambitious effort yet to redefine and extend the popularity of Afro-Peruvian music, the eclectically charming Negro Color.
“I am not a folklorist,” she says without apology. “Negro Color is my latest experiment. Costa Negra saw the return of an acoustic style. But I don’t like to record an album that sounds like something else I’ve done. All of my albums are different. In Negro Color, we didn’t use any samples or synthesizers. But as all the world sings boleros, so I decided to do boleros, but with other rhythms, not the standard form. For instance, on the Armando Manzanero song “Por debajo de la mesa,” we used the lando rhythm. It’s a beautiful song, and it gains a lot by being performed to the lando style.”
“Negro Color is a collaboration among my music director, my guitarist, and myself,” Tania explains of the special synthesis of talent that came together to produce this gem of an album. The guitarist, Felix Casaverde, performed with Chabuca Granda in Peru years ago, but came to Mexico with Libertad in 1980. With Cuban-born pianist and music director Sonia Cornuchet, Tania has a special collaborator. “We’re searching,” she says, “for the point that links Cuban and Peruvian music.”
But it is the rhythmically supple Afro-Peruvian sound that dominates Negro Color, even when Tania sings in Portuguese with Brazilian vocalist Eder da Rosa the poignant Chico Buarque song “Funeral del Labrador” (Funeral of the Laborer). “Afro-Peruvian music is more sensual than the African-derived music of other countries,” Tania explains. “Rhythms like lando create a very special air -- a unique quality -- that doesn’t exist in the Black styles of Colombia, Central America, Puerto Rico or Cuba.”
Those who listen to Negro Color will quickly be drawn into Tania’s ever expanding domain of music that creates the “special air“ and “unique quality“ few others have been able to define and communicate in such a captivating manner. As the joyous and evocative performances on Negro Color attest, Tania Libertad has again confirmed that she is a singer “sin banderas” artistically liberated, supremely confident, and the master of her own music universe.