Sunday, March 15, 2009

Violeta Parra: Gracias a la Vida.

Violeta Parra (1917 - 1967) was a Chilean folksinger and artist. She is credited with having re-discovered and re-popularized the folk music of Chile, which formed the basis for the Nueva Cancion movement combining traditional Chilean history and tradition with progressive politics. Violata Parra was a progressive and socialist.

She is also credited with reviving the tradition of having a local community center for progressives to share their art, music, theatre, and politics. These centers were called La Pena. La Penas became popular throughout South America and in parts of the U.S. during the 1970s. During the presidency of Salvador Allende, La Penas were created throughout Chile, but the Henry Kissinger-sponsored fascist military dictatorship that overthrew Allende and murdered thousands banned such gathering places. It seems that progressive politics tend to support an environment in which citizens' creativity can emerge and flourish, whereas the right-wing governments tend to suppress (or punish) individual creativity, forcing insipid, uninspiring mass-produced garbage onto the public and prohibiting anything else.

Violeta Parra committed suicide by gun in 1967, despondent over the break-up of a relationship. Her children Isabel and Angel Parra also became singers and performers.
She is greatly loved and revered not only in her own country of Chile, but in many countries around the world. Her song "Gracias a la Vida" is one of the best-known songs ever from South America, and has been performed and recorded by artists throughout the world.

Gracias a la vida, by Violeta Parra

(Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto)
Thanks to life which has given me so much,
It gave me two eyes that when I open them,
I can distinguish perfectly black from white,
And in the high heaven its starry background,
And in the multitudes the man I love.

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